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(Match Report by FIH) – Germany welcomed the national teams of Argentina to Crefelder Hockey und Tennis Club on Wednesday 22 May 2019, with the hosts experiencing mixed fortunes in two explosive FIH Pro League contests.
Argentina’s women scored twice in the final five minutes to fight back from a goal down to beat Germany 2-1, with Valentina Costa and Silvina d’Elia on target as Las Leonas edged closer to confirming a top four finish that brings with it berths in both the FIH Pro League Grand Final and the FIH Olympic qualifiers. The Pan American giants sit second in the standings with just two matches left to play, while Germany remain just outside the top four in fifth position.
A thrilling meeting between the men of Germany and Argentina went the way of the host nation, who claimed a bonus point in the shoot-out after regular time finished with the scores locked at 3-3. Argentina fought back from 2-0 down to take a 3-2 lead thanks to goals from Leandro Tolini, Ignacio Ortiz and Agustin Mazzilli before Constantin Staib forced a shoot-out with a brilliant late deflection. Argentina currently sit fifth in the FIH Pro League Standings, with Germany in sixth.
Argentina (FIH World Ranking: 4) came into the women’s match knowing that a win against Germany (WR:5) would put them within touching distance of guaranteeing a top four finish in the FIH Pro League, something that comes with the double prize of tickets to the FIH Pro League Grand Final and also the FIH Olympic qualifiers.
However, Las Leonas faced a team determined to boost their own points tally in the quest for that crucial top four finish, with Die Danas looking to gain a measure of revenge for their shoot-out loss at the hands of Argentina on a rain-hit occasion in Buenos Aires earlier this year.
The opening quarter was fiercely contested, with Germany’s Charlotte Stapenhorst creating the first chance of note before Eugenia Trinchinetti missed an open goal after a perfect pass from Carla Rebecchi, who took advantage of a defensive mix-up. Rebecchi’s match was cut short due to a head injury just before the end of the quarter.*
Germany had a second quarter goal ruled out for dangerous play, but the home favourites were not to denied in the third period thanks to a moment of brilliance from Stapenhorst. Collecting an overhead pass on the edge of the Argentina circle, Stapenhorst deliberately held her shot until the perfect moment, eliminating both her marker and the Leonas goalkeeper Maria Mutio with a terrific strike into the bottom left corner to give Germany a 1-0 lead.
Argentina almost levelled the scores late in the third quarter when Silvina d’Elia’s penalty corner strike was tipped around the post by Germany shot-stopper Julia Sonntag, with the home favourites taking their advantage into a final quarter in which everything would change.
Las Leonas pulled themselves level with five minutes remaining thanks to Valentina Costa, who sent a penalty corner drag-flick into the Germany net despite the best efforts of line-player Stapenhorst to clear the attempt. Just as it seemed the match was heading to a shoot-out, d’Elia stepped up to fire home a penalty corner winner with just 30 seconds of the match remaining, giving Argentina a superb win away from home.
The men’s match was a clash between the two most recent winners of the Olympic gold medal, with Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic champions Germany (WR:6) facing Argentina (WR:4), the reigning champions from Rio 2016. Both nations entered the contest knowing that they needed more points to strengthen their hopes of securing a top-four finish, with Argentina sitting fifth in the standings and Germany occupying sixth position.
There were opportunities at both ends of the field in the opening quarter, but it was Germany who made the first impression on the score-board thanks to an emphatic penalty stroke from Timm Herzbruch, who flicked high into the roof of the Argentina goal in the fifth minute.
Agustin Mazzilli rattled the pads of Germany goalkeeper Tobias Walter towards the end of the first period, with Walter twice being called into action in a second quarter largely dominated by the team from South America. A penalty corner effort from Maico Casella came closest to levelling the scores for Los Leones, being denied only by the superb reactions of defender Mathias Müller, who instinctively tipped the ball around the right post.
Germany extended their advantage early in the third quarter through team captain Martin Häner, who arrowed an unstoppable penalty corner drag-flick into the goal via the bottom of the left post. The goal seemed to kick-start Argentina into action, who rattled in two goals before the end of the quarter to restore parity at 2-2 thanks to a penalty corner Leandro Tolini and the coolest of finishes from the tightest angles from Ignacio Ortiz.
Things got even better for Argentina in the final quarter the Ortiz turned provider for Agustin Mazzilli, only for Germany to snatch an equaliser late in the game thanks to a superb diving deflection from Constantin Staib, sending the match into a shoot-out for the bonus point.
The shoot-out was of the highest quality, with both teams converting all of their opportunities to leave the score at 5-5 and force ‘sudden death’. Matias Rey’s miss proved decisive, with Niklas Wellen stepping up to convert and seal what could be a crucial bonus point for Germany.