Hockey World Cup 2018, Quarterfinal 1: Argentina vs England - 5 Talking Points
The 2018 Hockey World Cup has now entered one of its most crucial stages. For the first time since Rio Olympics 2016, a major FIH tournament like the Hockey World Cup was being conducted in the knockout format, which included crossovers, quarterfinals, and then proceeded to the semifinals and the subsequent finals.
The first quarterfinal were conducted between England and reigning Olympic champions Argentina. Even though they were the first team to enter the quarterfinals, their present form was in doubt after the drubbing they received at the hands of France, who shocked them by 5-3.
With the beginning of the match, one thing was proved for sure. The match was no one sided affair for sure. For one whole quarter, neither of the teams were able to penetrate into each other's striking circle, forget striking a goal and earning the lead.
Even when Gonzalo Peillat earned the lead for Argentina, a jittery Argentine defence broke his dream within 10 minutes, when England equalized the score with experienced stalwart Barry Middleton scoring a crisp field goal in the 27th minute.
Even though the third quarter went goalless, none of the teams were ready to budge even an inch. It was in the fourth quarter, that a classic encounter between the European and South American styles of hockey actually emerged.
When England took the lead in the 45th minute, Gonzalo Peillat once again came to the rescue of his Argentine team. However, the Olympic champions finally gave in, when Harry Martin outfoxed the Argentine goalkeeper to earn the winning goal for England.
Even though Argentina wasn't out, they couldn't breach the English defence, which worked superbly in the last 11 minutes, led by the British goalkeeper George Pinner, who kept his cool in the traditional British manner.
Not only England won the match, they also entered the semifinals of the FIH World Cup for the third time in a row since FIH World Cup 2010, when they achieved the honors for the first time since FIH World Cup 1986.
Here are five talking points from England's thrilling 3-2 victory over Argentina.
#5 A tussle for the ball in the first quarter
From the very first quarter itself, unlike the previous matches, both teams attacked each other with equal force and enthusiasm. Neither the Olympic champions Argentina, nor the British team were ready to budge even an inch in their fight for the ultimate glory and the ticket to the semifinals.
Argentina had an impressive record, riding high on their successes at the Rio Olympics 2016 and the 2017 FIH World Hockey League Finals. They had defeated the same England in the 2014 World Cup to win their first ever medal in a Hockey World Cup, and were expected to perform on the exact same level this time as well.
However, England had other plans. The English brilliance was visible in the very first quarter, as they denied the Argentine strikers even a single penetration in their circle, forget striking a goal. Led by experienced midfielder Barry Middleton, England made 4 circle entries, and earned 2 penalty corners. However, the Argentine goalkeeper, Juan Vivaldi, made two fantastic saves in order to keep the first quarter goalless.