England Men stunned Argentina at the Odisha World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India, winning the first quarter-final 3-2 to set up a semi-final against either Belgium or Germany, who will decide their last four tie on Thursday.
England’s clash with Los Leones turned out to be a classic although Argentina’s discipline let them down towards the end of the match, ultimately seeing them down to nine players for the last 64 seconds.
The game started quietly with only two circle penetrations in the first quarter, both to England who had two penalty corner opportunities defended well by Argentina’s Lucas Rossi in his role as the leading runner, Surbiton’s Luke Taylor denied on both occasions.
Argentina took the lead in the 17th minute against the run of play from their first penalty corner, won successfully via a video referral. Leading goalscorer Gonzalo Peillat duly converted although England goalkeeper, George Pinner was unlucky, knocking the ball backwards over the line having tried to make an initial save.
Surbiton’s Zach Wallace came close to notching an equaliser within a minute, and Argentina went close to doubling their advantage, Lucas Vila shooting wide of the right post in the 21st minute.
England lost their right to a video referral in the 22nd minute giving them a handicap for the rest of the match.
However, England equalised three minutes before half time, Barry Middleton sending the ball into far left corner of the goal with an angled shot from the right of the circle following excellent attacking play from Liam Ansell.
England survived a scare early in the third quarter when they not only conceded a penalty corner and more potential trouble from Peillat, but Will Calnan was shown a yellow card for a perceived deliberate foot offence.
Just seconds before the third quarter hooter, Calnan put England ahead for the first time in the match, Middleton’s aerial pass not controlled by an Argentine defender, the ball falling perfectly for Calnan to finish in spectacular fashion.
Under pressure, Peillat struck again in the 48th minute from a penalty corner, but England responded in the best way possible, Harry Martin restoring their lead a minute later to give them a 3-2 advantage, they were destined to hold on to.
With six minutes remaining, England had the chance to virtually seal the win, but Ansell, having run all the way from inside his own half, was unlucky to see his shot strike the left post to give Argentina hope.
Argentina elected to replace goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi with a kicking back with four minutes and five seconds remaining to snatch an equaliser and force a shootout, but the tactic was devalued in the 57th minute when Agustin Mazzilli was banished to the naughty step for the rest of the game, shown a yellow card for a foul on Surbiton’s James Gall.
Argentina’s situation worsened in the 59th minute when Ignacio Ortiz also saw yellow to leave Los Leones down to nine players. In spite of being short handed, Argentina had still threatened to level but Ortiz’s card all but ended Argentina’s hopes.
England successfully held on to reach the semi-finals.
Surbiton’s Gall was in the England starting line-up whilst Taylor and Wallace both came on from the subs bench in the fifth minute. Harry Gibson once more stayed on the subs bench as Pinner played the whole game.
More information about the tournament can be found at the FIH website
The games are being shown live on BT Sport and the schedule for all their channels can be found here
The England Hockey match report can be found here