Argentina continued their giant-killing spree and scored a 3-2 come-from-behind win over Belgium, while the Netherlands beat Australia by a solitary goal to register their first victory at the Hero Hockey World League Final at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, here on Saturday.
In the opening match of the day, the 11th ranked Argentines continued from where they left in their last match and stunned world number five Belgium, who slumped to their second consecutive defeat in the eight-nation event.
Argentina, who upset the Netherlands in yesterday’s opening match, made a promising start when Facundo Callioni won the first penalty corner for his side early on but the Les Leones failed to capitalise on the opportunity.
But it was Belgium who opened the scoring in the sixth minute through Tom Boon (6th minute) when he smashed the ball into the far corner of the goal.
Stung by the early goal, Argentina went on the offensive and the Pan American champions restored parity five minutes later through Pedro Ibarra (11th minute), who beat five Belgian defenders behind to score a brilliant field goal past goalie Vincent Vanash.
With less than a minute from the first half, Boon (34th minute) regained Belgium’s lead with a field goal.
Argentina, however, levelled the scores in the middle of the second half when completely unmarked Matias Paredes (50th) latched onto the ball at the far post to deflect home a long pass from Juan Martin Lopez.
Argentina continued their attacking style and took the lead for the first time in the match when Facundopo Callioni (61th) picked up a flick and managed to lift the ball over the Belgian keeper Vanish.
Meanwhile, in the second match of Pool B, a solitary goal from Billy Bakker gave the Netherlands their first win in the event after having lost 2-5 to Argentina on Friday.
It was a tactical contest between Netherlands and Argentina as both the top-ranked teams matched each other well.
However, there was plenty of action on the pitch as both goalkeepers were forced to make important saves to keep their teams alive. The Netherlands, in fact, struck the post twice in the early minutes of the game.
World champions Australia earned a series of penalty corners in the last few minutes of the first half which forced Netherlands goalkeeper Jaap Stockman to make some brilliant saves.
Just three minutes into the second half, the Netherlands took the lead through a brilliant Billy Bakker, who got past the defence and shoot home from a wide angle past goalkeeper Tyler Lovell.
The Netherlands were reduced to 10 men when Bob de Voogd was dismissed for a rash tackle, but the Kookaburras were unable to take advantage.
Australia earned two penalty corners with just 90 minutes from the hooter, but on both occasions Stockmann came to the Netherlands’ rescue.
With two wins out of as many games, Argentina are on top of Pool B with six points with Australia (3) on the second spot followed by the Netherlands (3).
Argentina will face Australia in their last pool match on Monday, while Netherlands will be up against Belgium.
Keywords: Hockey World League