India men’s hockey team defeated Argentina 2-1 in their third Pool B encounter at the Olympic Hockey Centre on Tuesday to climb third in the standings with two wins to their name.
Manipur’s Chinglensana Kangujam scored the opening goal for India in the eighth minute and the lead was doubled in the third quarter by another Manipuri player – Kothajit Khadangbam.
Similar to their second game against Germany on Monday, in which India faltered and conceded a last-gasp goal to concede the game, the VR Raghunath-led team played a jittery final quarter with Argentina reducing the deficit via penalty corner goal by Gonzalo Peillet early in Q4. With less than eight minutes to go, Argentina earned a barrage of penalty corners but India goalkeeper PR Sreejesh made three crucial saves to deny drag-flick specialist Peillet. India just about managed to stave off Argentina to register a close win. This is the first time India have beaten Argentina since 2009.
India started the match aggressively and earned their first penalty corner of the match in the 7th minute when defender Ramandeep Singh hit the leg of an Argentinean defender inside the circle. Rupinder Pal Singh’s flick was blocked, but in the next minute India got their second PC and this time Chinglensana found the net to hand India 1-0 lead in the first quarter.
India got lucky in the dying minutes of the first quarter, when Argentina were denied by the post.
In the next quarter, Argentina looked in better rhythm and were on the charge. While India dominated the play in Q1, the lion’s share of possession in Q2 was enjoyed by their opponent. Argentina got close to a goal in Q2 but a fantastic block by Sreejesh helped India maintain their one goal advantage going in to the long break. In the third, India got the better of Argentina and Kothajit Khadangbam doubled the lead scoring a field goal five minutes in to the third quarter.
In the final quarter Argentina clawed their way back into the game and dominated the proceedings. Their sustained pressure inside the D led to as many as four penalty corners, but Sreejesh put aside his disappointment of conceding a goal against Germany with three seconds left on the clock, with three brilliant saves to keep India ahead.