World number ten Argentina looked on course to make it to the men’s Hockey World League semifinals after they put it across 12th ranked South Africa 4-2 in the second Round 2 tournament, being played in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The match was a personal milestone for Argentinean captain Lucas Rey who was playing in his 150th international.
On a hot day, Argentina called the shots early on as Augustin Mazzilli tapped home in the 4th minute after he made the most of a nifty cross from the left flank from Enrique Paredes.
Argentina had more of the ball possession even as South Africa struggled to hit the straps. Rodrigo Villa exuded superb stickwork from the right to double his team’s lead in the 10th minute.
Argentina could have pulled ahead when Guillermo Schickendantz took a crack at the South African cage, but goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse effected a great save.
South Africa had an opportunity to bounce back when they forced their first penalty corner. Austin Smith’s drag-flick was parried by Argentinean goal-tender Juan Vivaldi.
South Africa looked promising in the 25th minute when Timothy Drummond essayed a square pass from the left but Julian Hykes slammed it wide.
Argentina piled on the pressure in the closing stages of the first half. They forced two penalty corners but on both occasions, South Africa defended stoutly.
South Africa started the second half with more purpose but soon they were outplayed by Argentina. Guillermo Schickendantz, who made his international debut at the age of 33 last year, sent in a nice cross from the left flank which was capitalized by Facundo Callioni, who dived to deflect the ball home in the 40th minute.
South Africa hit back through Lloyd Norris-Jones in the 42nd minute (3-1).
Five minutes later, Clint Panther further reduced the margin, rattling the Argentinean cage, profiting from a square pass from Jethro Eustice (3-2).
Argentina were in no mood to allow South Africa make it a down-to the-wire affair. Pedro Ibarra gave Argentina an insurance goal in the 53rd minute when he took full advantage of a pass from Lucas Vila (4-2).
Argentina held on to win the match 4-2.
Argentina are on course to book one of the two semifinal spots, while South Africa must beat Chile in their last league tie if they are to make the cut.
In another match, 34th ranked Trinidad and Tobago pipped 29th-ranked USA 4-3 on sudden-death penalty shootout after both teams were locked 1-1 in regulation time.
USA struck first through captain Pat Harris, who fired a penalty corner in the 22nd minute while Akim Toussaint equalised for Trindad & Tobago.
In the last match of the day, 25th ranked Chile beat hosts and 33rd ranked Brazil 3-1 after both teams were goalless at half-time.