Olympic champions Argentina set up a mouth-watering semi-final meeting with host nation India on Friday (8th December 2017) by battling past England in a cracking opening match of the day.
Argentina attacker Lucas Vila was a hugely influential figure in the contest, marking his 200th senior international appearance with a goal and an assist to help his team into the final four.
Vila produced a poacher’s finish in the 21st minute of the match to give the South American giants an early advantage, with Matias Paredes doubling the lead a minute before half time.
A stunning volley from David Condon reduced the deficit to a single goal before the end of the half, ensuring that the European bronze medallists were very much in the game ahead of the two quarters that remained.
However, another moment of magic from Vila proved crucial for Argentina’s third goal, weaving has way past England goalkeeper Harry Gibson before being tripped by the shot-stopper, earning his side a penalty stroke. Juan Gilardi – who was later named Man of the Match, presented by Odisha New Opportunities – made no mistake from the spot, restoring Argentina’s two goal lead. A deflected effort from Adam Dixon in the final minute gave England a glimmer of hope at 3-2, but it was not enough time for a comeback.
“It is an honour to be a part of this team and to play 200 games in this shirt, representing Argentina, is like a dream”, said influential attacker Vila after the match, before looking ahead to the semi-final clash against home favourites India.
Argentina will now face India in the Semi-Final match of the Hockey World League 2017 Finals.
“It is going to be tough. We watched India’s match (against Belgium) yesterday and they go really direct to goal, they want to score every time. We need to be smart to their counters, and we have to use our penalty corner more, which could be the key.” said Vila
Argentina, might be the reigning Olympic champions and world’s numero uno team at present, but the Indians have better head-to-head record against them.
India and Argentina have so far played 46 games against each other, out of which India have won 26, lost 16 and four ended in a tie.
In fact, India were the only team that defeated Argentina to their way to gold medal triumph in 2016 Olympics. In Rio, the Indians defeated the Los Leones 2-1 in the pool stages
India’s chief coach Sjoerd Marijne said his wards will have to dish out a similar performance as against Belgium if not better, if they hope to tame Argentina today.
RESULTS – DAY 7: Quarter-Finals
England 2, Argentina 3.
Man of the Match, presented by Odisha New Opportunities: Juan Gilardi (ARG)
Junior Player of the Match, presented by ONGC: Liam Sanford (ENG)
Germany 3, Netherlands 3. (Germany win 4-3 after Shoot-Out)
Man of the Match, presented by Odisha New Opportunities: Florian Fuchs (GER)
Junior Player of the Match, presented by ONGC: Joep de Mol (NED)
Upcoming fixtures (All times Indian Standard Time – UTC +5.30)
Friday 8th December 2017
17:15: 7-8 – England v Netherlands
19:30: Semi-Final – India v Argentina
Saturday 9th December 2017
17:15: 5-6 – Belgium v Spain
19:30: Semi-Final – Australia v Germany
Sunday 10th December 2017
17:15: Bronze medal match