Dominant India beat Argentina 3-1 to seal quarterfinal berth
(Sourced from PTI)
The Indian men's hockey team stormed into the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games with a comprehensive 3-1 victory over defending Argentina, scoring two goals in the final two minutes of its penultimate pool match on Thursday. India broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute through Varun Kumar before Vivek Sagar Prasad (58th) and Harmanpreet Singh (59th) struck in the closing minutes of the match.
It was India's third win in Pool A at the Oi Hockey Stadium. Argentina's lone goal came from a penalty corner conversion by Schuth Casella in the 48th minute. By virtue of this win, India has consolidated its position in the second spot of Pool A with three wins and one loss out of four games, behind Australia.
Argentina is struggling at the fifth spot in the six-team pool and needs to beat New Zealand in their final preliminary match on Friday to stay in the hunt for a quarterfinal berth. The top four make the last-eight stage from each group. India will play hosts Japan in their final pool match on Friday.
The Indians were aggressive and put pressure on the Argentine defense from the very beginning, attacking in numbers. India completely dominated the first quarter, mounting attacks after attacks but the Argentines defended stoutly to frustrate their opponents. The Indians nonetheless dominated possession and penetrated the Argentine circle on numerous occasions but the final pass was missing.
Manpreet Singh's men had their first shot at the goal in the third minute. But Dilpreet Singh's hit from close range from a Simranjeet Singh pass was nicely saved by Argentina goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi. The midfield, led by Manpreet Singh, played a great game in the first quarter which was evident from the circle penetration statistics. India had 16 against Argentine's two.
India was almost rewarded in the 27th minute when a diving Simranjeet Singh's effort sailed over the post. Two minutes later, Argentina had the first real scoring opportunity but Nahuel Salis' powerful shot from the right corner of the circle was padded away by PR Sreejesh's outstretched hands. It was a frustrating first half as both teams failed to secure a single penalty corner.
Soon the Indians had their hearts in their mouth when the defense was caught off guard by Argentina but Matias Rey couldn't beat PR Sreejesh from a one-on-one situation. It took India 43 minutes to break the deadlock. Seconds from the end of the third quarter, India wasted four consecutive penalty corners as Argentina defended bravely.
However, Vivek Sagar Prasad restored India's lead tapping in from a rebound after Dilpreet Singh's attempt was saved by Juan Vivaldi and then in the nick of time, Harmanpreet Singh drew the final nail in Argentina's coffin by converting the team's eighth penalty corner.