Classy Argentina sink sloppy India

Classy Argentina sink sloppy India

A vastly efficient Argentina condemned a profligate India to their second straight defeat of the FIH Champions Trophy with the South Americans romping to an emphatic 4-2 victory here on Sunday.

Dishing out an ordinary performance for the second straight day much to the disappointment of a packed audience at the Kalinga Stadium, the Indians, despite taking the lead twice in their Pool B encounter, collapsed under a barrage of errors, eventually gift-wrapping the match to the Los Leones.

Akashdeep Singh (30th) and Gurjinder Singh (37th) put the Indians ahead but Lucas Vilas (30th) and Juan Lopez (37th) cancelled them out very quickly before Agustin Mazzilli (49th) and Joaquin Menini (59th) struck in fine fashion to seal Argentina’s win. India’s show in the opening quarter was a mirror image of the 1-0 defeat they suffered against Germany on Saturday. The attacks flowed from both the flanks but the strikers simply lacked composure, seemingly affected by the raucous home crowd.

Every time they entered the final quarter of the pitch, they just chose to whip the ball into the ‘D’ in the hope of finding a team-mate instead of trying to penetrate. That ploy repeatedly back-fired as the ball either eluded the lone floating striker or the Argentine defence read it well in cutting out the crosses.

Despite their plan not working one bit, the Indians never showed an inclination for change, opting for the same modus operandi before things finally bore dividends in the final minute of the second quarter.

Gurjinder whipped in 30-yard cross which an alert Akashdeep tapped home. However, even before the celebrations could settle down, Argentina, known for their counter-attacks, hit back with Vila deflecting home a long cross to level things up.

India started the third quarter with a bit more purpose with strikers showing the inclination to penetrate rather than resorting to long hits. After missing a couple of attempts they stroked ahead when Gurjinder thundered home a drag-flick in the 37th minute but were back on level terms within seconds, thanks to Rupinder Pal Singh’s error. The defender failed to stop a free hit and the ball rose high which an alert Lopez tapped home.

The Indians then went in search of the winner but ended up leaving gaping holes in the defence which a ruthless Argentina exploited to the hilt. In the 49th minute Menini stole the ball from the 25-yard line on the left, dribbled into the circle before smacking a reverse hit that Mazzilli deflected.

Completely shattered after that, the Indians just caved in as Argentina began to assert themselves. Playing a high defensive line, Argentina kept Indians in their own half, hardly allowing them any space to operate.

With the clock running down, defeat loomed large on the Indians and Menini hammered the final nail in the coffin with a neat finish.

Major statement

Vastly improved England issued another destructive statement of their intent with an 8-2 thrashing of Pakistan while Belgium showed plenty of character in holding defending champions Australia 4-4 in a pulsating encounter in their respective Pool A encounters.
Nine-time winners Netherlands, playing with four new faces but having the cohesion of a well-oiled engine, dished out another commanding performance, crushing rivals Germany 4-1 in Pool B.

DH News Service
Results: Pool A: Australia: 4 (Chris Ciriello 5th, Eddie Ockenden 19th, Jacob Whetton 21st, Flynn Ogilvie 37th) drew with Belgium: 4 (Sebastien Dockier 25th, Florent van Aubel 30th, John-John Dohmen 38th, Tom Boon 60th); England: 8 (Mark Gleghorne 15th, Nick Catlin 17th, David Condon 19th, Barry Middleton 24th, Ahsley Jackson 26th, Samuel Ward 45th, Alastair Brogdon 48th, Chris Griffiths 59th) bt Pakistan: 2 (Muhammad Arslan Qadir 57th, Muhammad Irfan 60th).

Pool B: Netherlands: 4 (Constantjin Jonker 11th, Diede van Puffelen 25th, Rogier Hofman 29th, Seve van Ass 51st) bt Germany: 1 ( Florian Fuchs 56th); Argentina: 4 (Lucas Vila 30th, Juan Lopez 37th, Agustin Mazzilli 49th, Joaquin Menini 59th) bt India: 2 (Akashdeep Singh 30th, Gurjinder Singh 37th).

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