Australia defeated Japan 3-2 in a keenly-contested match to register its second successive victory in Group A at the women’s hockey World Cup here on Monday.

It was Japan which opened the scoring with Yuri Nagai surprising the Australian defence with a field goal in the 20th minute. Australia equalised just at the stroke of half-time through a penalty corner conversion by Anna Flanagan.

After the crossover, the Australians scored two goals in the space of five minutes to take a commanding 3-1 lead as Emily Smith fired a flash goal in the 41st minute before Flanagan converted her second penalty corner in the 45th minute.

Second loss for Japan

Japan worked hard, but could only pull one goal back in the 58th minute when Shiho Sakai duly flicked in a penalty stroke. This was Japan’s second straight loss in the tournament.

Earlier, holder Argentina made a steady start to its campaign, defeating South Africa 4-1 in a Group B match of the women’s competition late on Sunday night.

Captain Luciana Aymer, playing in her fifth World Cup, was frustrated to see that her team’s domination did not convert into goals until the 26th minute. But Silvina D’Elia converted two penalty corners in the space of three minutes to see Argentina go ahead 2-0 by the 28th minute.

Another penalty corner conversion, this time by Noel Barrionuevo made it 3-0 five minutes into the second session.

The Argentine women, seeking their third World Cup title in four editions, scored their next goal through an open field strike by Delfina Merino in the 60th minute, but their own citadel fell immediately at the other end in a brisk move to which Tarryn Bright applied the finishing touch.

The results:

On Monday: Men: Australia 3 (Tim Deavin 2, Mark Knowles 10, Kieran Govers 33) bt Spain 0.

Women: Australia 3 (Anna Flanagan 35 & 45, Emily Smith 41) bt Japan 2 (Yuri Nagai 20, Shiho Sakai 58).

On Sunday: Men: New Zealand 2 (Steve Edwards 1, Phil Burrows 69) bt Korea 1 (Kim Seongkyu 64).

Women: Argentina 4 (Silvina D’Elia 26 & 28, Noel Barrionuevo 40, Delfina Merino 60) bt South Africa 1 (Tarryn Bright 60).

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