Jorge Lombi sparkles in Argentina’s title triumph

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WELL DONE MATE: India’s Tushar Khandekar (left) congratulates teammate Sandeep Singh after he scored a goal against England on Sunday.
WELL DONE MATE: India’s Tushar Khandekar (left) congratulates teammate Sandeep Singh after he scored a goal against England on Sunday.

S. Thyagarajan

HOCKEY / India beats England, bags bronze

Boom (Belgium): A dramatic fight back in the last five minutes and the extraordinary hat-trick by that old warhorse Jorge Lombi, who scored the golden goal, gave Argentina another trophy triumph in the men’s hockey Champions Challenge here on Sunday evening.

Even a soothsayer would not have predicted a win for Argentina when New Zealand was leading 2-0 till the 30th minute in the second half.

Hayden Shaw was till then the hero having scored scoring both the goals from impeccable penalty corners. But Argentina, persistent, wrested the initiative early in the second half. Forcing the pressure on the Kiwi defence, it slowly emerged authoritative in the mid-field. That the team forced as many as 11 penalty corners shows the dominance.

When five minutes remained for the close, Jorge Lombi drag flicked and within two minutes pumped in another blinder that bewildered the Kiwi custodian, Pontifex. The Argentines then held on as the match progressed into the golden goal phase.

And here, Jorge Lombi showed how experience and expertise matter in such vital moments. His flick sent the ball crashing into the net, even as the Argentine players rushed into the ground in wild celebration. Clearly, the hero of the day was the Argentine icon, Jorge Lombi.

Earlier, India almost lost its bronze medal against England after leading 4-1 at halftime. Imagine a team leading 4-1 at halftime and ending the contest with an odd goal separating the winner and the loser.

Tushar strikes

When Tushar Khandekar slugged in two goals in a space of six minutes from start, he only exemplified the shambles, which the England defence was at that point of time. Almost everything was working well and when Sandeep, playing as mid-fielder enlarged the lead the command was absolute. As though to confirm it, a lovely move initiated by Dilip Tirkey and developed by Shivendra culminated in Roshan Minz finding the target.

There was a slackening of tempo even as the English attack began to strike a rhythm. Nothing exemplified this more than the goal that Rob Moore netted before half-time.

Dictating terms

Buoyed by the success, the England attack, prompted well by Ben Hawes in the mid-field, began dictating terms. The pressure on the Indian defence was mounting by the minute. James Tindell managed to make capital of a goalmouth skirmish. When eight minutes remained from close, England struck again Simon Mantell taking credit for narrowing the margin.

Earlier, Japan pushed the host, Belgium, to the last place in the tie for 5-6 places.

Best goal-keeper: Cedric Degrieve (Belgium), Top scorer: Hayden Shaw (New Zealand) nine goals.

Player of the tournament: Ryan Archibald (New Zealand).

The results: Final: Argentina 3 (Jorge Lombi 3, including the golden goal) bt New Zealand 2 (Hayden Shaw 2) HT 0-0; 5-6: Japan 4 (Nagasawa, Yamabori, Yashida, Yashihiro Anai) bt Belgium 3 (Jereome Dekeyser 2, Amaury de Cock). HT 2-2. 3-4: India 4 (Tushar Khandekar 2, Sandeep Singh, Roshan Minz) bt England 3 (Rob Moore, James Tindell, Simon Mantell). HT 4-1.

Final placings: 1. Argentina, 2. New Zealand, 3. India, 4. England 5, Japan, 6. Belgium.

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