Photo Credits : Getty Images

Olympic champions Argentina claimed an important victory on the second day of action at the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, overcoming strong Pool A challenges from Spain and France respectively.

Agustin Mazzilli and Gonzalo Peillat scored a brace each but Olympic champions Argentina were made to dig deep to take out a 4-3 win over Spain in their Pool A match of the Hockey World Cup on Thursday.

Spain stunned the Argentines as early as in the third minute through young Enrique Gonzalez’s fine field strike past Argentina goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi from a move which he only initiated. But a minute later, Mazzilli drew level for Argentina, deflecting in a cross from the right wing past Spain’s goalkeeper Quico Cortes.

Spain restored their lead in the 14th minute through a penalty corner conversion by Josep Romeu.

It was end-to-end battle as Mazzilli (15th minute) again came to Argentina’s rescue, equalising 45 seconds from the first quarter after receiving a pass from Lucas Villa on the left side.

Just seconds away from the first break of the match, Argentina scored again when dragflick specialist Peillat (15t) converted a penalty corner with precision to hand his side the lead for the first time in the game.

Both the teams played with same intensity and pace in the second quarter but failed to find the net.

Five minutes after the change of ends, Spain equalised through Vicenc Ruiz’s (35th) field strike.

The match went on similar lines in the fourth and final quarter with both Argentina and Spain pressing hard for more goals to secure full three points.

But it were the Argentines who succeeded in their effort when Peillat was again bang on target from another penalty corner in the 49th minute.

Thereafter, Spain dished out all the tricks, including withdrawing their goalkeeper for an extra player four minutes from the final hooter, but failed to breach the Argentina defence.

Speaking after the match, Argentina attacker Lucas Vila was pleased that his side had made a winning start to their title challenge here in Bhubaneswar. “The first half was a bit crazy with a lot of goals, both against and also for us, but in the end, it was a win and it was what we needed, to start the competition in a good way”, said the 32-year-old Olympic gold medallist. “We needed to defend our circle better. We tried to do it today but couldn’t do it in the best way, but at least we could score more than them.”

Argentina will play New Zealand in their next pool match on December 3, while Spain will be up against France.

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