FIH Pro League: India survives regulation period 2-2, lose 1-3 in penalty shoot-out against Argentina
New Delhi, March 19, 2022
India managed to hold an aggressive Argentina 2-2 but the visitors pipped the hosts 3-1 in the penalty shoot-out to claim the bonus point in the FIH Hockey Pro League at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Saturday evening.
In a keenly contested encounter, Argentina opened the proceedings by making a flurry of attacks from both the flanks, putting India under a lot of pressure in the opening quarter.
The Indian defence had a tough time thwarting the rival attacks as the visitors came the closest to opening the scoring but Martin Ferreiro’s shot was well saved by goalkeeper Krishnan Pathak.
The second quarter saw India on the attack as they created several chances, including four penalty corners, but dragflicker Harmanpreet Singh was unable to convert the three penalty corners he took and then Jugraj, who took the fourth penalty corner, saw his shot cleared easily.
PR Sreejesh replaced Pathak in the goal and was quickly called into action when he smartly cleared the ball after Harmanpreet was caught in possession in his defensive quarter.
Argentina were reduced to 10 players after Nicolas Keenan was shown a yellow card at the end of the second half.
After the goal-less first half, both teams became a bit tentative. Passes went astray and possession was lost all too easily.
India took the lead when a cross was intercepted by Mandeep Singh who set up Gurjant and the striker, perfectly positioned behind the Argentina defence, cracked the ball past Tomas Santiago in the Argentina goal (1-0).
The goal buoyed India as they put more pressure on their rivals .They had more chances as their swift and precise passing left the Argentina players chasing shadows.
However, it was Argentina, against the run of play, who scored the equaliser. Nicolas Acosta’s shot took a deflection and the ball shot past Pathak to bring the scores level(1-1).
With seven minutes left, Argentina won a penalty corner. Nicolas Keenen injected the ball and Nicolas della Torres played the ball back to Keenan, who lifted it home to give his team the lead (2-1).
India nearly drew parity just seconds later as Sukhjeet came tantalisingly close to directing a cross home, only to see it fly past the post.
As time ticked away, the hosts became desperate for the equaliser. Jarmanpreet ran down from his flank but was felled by an Argentina defender.
The ensuing penalty corner was again well cleared by Argentina’s number one runner, Thomas Habif.
With under 60 seconds left on the clock, India managed to gain possession. A quick break saw the ball fall to Mandeep and he fired home the equaliser (2-2).
In the penalty shoot-out, Argentina took the bonus point. Keenan, Tomas Domene, Lucas Toscani all scored for the winners.
Argentina goalkeeper Santiago made some fabulous saves. For India, only Harmanpreet scored in his attempt.
With this, in their 11 meetings, Argentina has now won five times, India four and there have been two draws.