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Hockey: India pip Olympic champions Argentina (2-2) 3-2 in a shootout
Buenos Aires, April 11, 2021
A penalty corner conversion by Harmanpreet Singh in the dying moments of the game enabled India to level the first leg of the FIH Pro League against Olympic champions Argentina 2-2, pushing the match into a penalty shootout on Saturday.
In the shootout, India piped the hosts 3-2 with Lalit Upadhyay, Rupinder Pal Singh and Dilpreet Singh hitting the target while experienced custodian PR Sreejesh came up with impressive saves to fetch the winners a bonus point.
Earlier in the contest, it was India who drew first blood with a penalty corner conversion in the 21st minute. Harmanpreet fiercely hit the ball to the left of the Argentine goalkeeper to earn a 1-0 lead.
Argentina bounced back as they put the Indian defence under pressure with potential circle penetrations in the following minutes. Their efforts paid off as they earned a penalty corner and Martin Ferreiro scored an equalizer.
Ferreiro was also responsible for Argentina's second goal through yet another PC in the 30th minute, ending the second quarter with a 2-1 lead.
At half-time, stats projected Argentina's dominance as they had better ball possession in comparison to India and also had 10 shots on goal while the visitors had made eight attempts on goal.
The third quarter was goalless with both teams keeping the pressure up against each other and living up to the billing. Though both sides had traded PCs in this quarter, neither could muster a goal.
The contest went down to the wire with both teams stepping on the gas. Desperate for a win after losing to Germany in the double-header last week, Argentina were resolute in their efforts while India worked the yards vying for an elusive goal.
Harmanpreet slapped the ball from the top of the circle towards the goal but Lalit Upadhyay couldn't get his stick on the ball for a deflection. Pressure mounted on India in the dying minutes of the match with two of their key players Varun Kumar and Mandeep Singh sitting out of the game with a yellow card.
But Harmanpreet 's valiant effort in the final moments ensured a successful outing for the visitors.
"I think the biggest take away from this match is our fighting spirit. We didn't lose hope until the last minute and we fought back really hard to earn this result," stated an elated Harmanpreet.