Argentina, the top ranked country in the world, ended England Men’s hopes of Odisha Hockey World League Final tournament glory, winning their quarter-final tie 3-2 in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.
Argentina became the third country to reach the semi-finals having failed to win a single pool game.
Both teams started their last eight match up with defenses on top in a cagey first quarter. Argentina’s captain, Matias Paredes shot wide right of the goal under pressure from England goalkeeper, George Pinner in the 18th minute and three minutes later, Argentina broke the deadlock.
Juan Lopez’s pass found Lucas Vila at the right post, from where he finished simply to give Argentina the lead.
Paredes doubled Argentina’s lead a minute before half time, beating Pinner with an acute angled shot from the left of the circle. However, England fought back in the same minute, Liam Sanford’s pass controlled by David Condon to spin round and smash the ball into the goal.
Argentina believed that the ball had made contact with an English foot but lost their video referral in the process. The Argentinian bench were unhappy with the decision and spoke to the umpires at half time to vent their frustration.
Surbiton’s Harry Gibson had been in England’s goal for the first quarter with Head Coach Bobby Crutchley rotating his goalkeepers. Gibson was unfortunate in the 34th minute when Vila won a penalty stroke after making contact with the goalkeeper. Juan Gilardi expertly slotted the ball into the top left corner to give Argentina a commanding 3-1 lead.
Still leading 3-1 at the end of the third quarter, Argentina lost Agustin Mazzilli with a shoulder injury for the last eleven minutes after an incident with Surbiton’s Brendan Creed.
England had only forced two penalty corners previously in the tournament but forced four in the final quarter, Mark Gleghorne being denied by Juan Vivladi in the Argentinian goal and Vivaldi’s defenders.
In the last minute, England were given an unexpected boost when Adam Dixon’s cross was turned into the goal off an Argentinian defender’s stick.
As the final hooter sounded, England used their video referral to request a penalty corner after Surbiton’s James Gall was forced backwards and possibly obstructed by Argentina’s Matias Rey but the video referral was rejected and Argentina’s victory was confirmed.
Creed joined Gibson in the England starting line-up with Surbiton’s Luke Taylor and David Goodfield joining the action in the fifth minute followed by Gall a minute later.
England will now play in a losing quarter-finalists match with the schedule to be confirmed.
More information about the tournament can be found in the Event Page on the FIH website here
The England Hockey match report can be found here