Mandeep Singh's last-gasp brilliance helps India beat Argentina 4-3

India beat Argentina 4-3 in the second FIH Pro League match on Sunday. (PC: Hockey India)
India beat Argentina 4-3 in the second FIH Pro League match on Sunday. (PC: Hockey India)

It took a goal of real flair and class from India's Mandeep Singh to separate India and Argentina as the hosts won 4-3 in their second FIH Pro League match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday.

The match saw a host of twists and turns as each team enjoyed moments of ascendency followed by moments of intense pressure.

In the end, it was Mandeep Singh who scored the winning goal - finding the net in the final minute of play as India avenged Saturday's defeat.

The result means India move to the top of the FIH Pro League points table ahead of the Netherlands, with Argentina in fourth position, one point behind Germany.

The opening quarter was a slow burn. Both teams probed each other’s defense but there was no significant goal-mouth action. Nicolas Keenan for Argentina showed a willingness to attack up the Argentina left-hand side of the pitch but on the whole, there was very little created by either team.

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India won the first penalty corner of the game in the second minute of the second quarter. Varun Kumar took the shot, which Tomas Santiago saved well. However, Hardik Singh was on hand to volley the ball home to give his side the lead.

Amit Rohidas created his team’s second clear-cut chance to score when he burst through the Argentina defense to draw a foul. The ensuing penalty corner gave Jugraj Singh his fourth goal for the senior team – a rasping shot that Santiago barely saw as it crossed his line.

Argentina took their own chances, winning two penalty corners which they were unable to convert. Martin Ferreiro shot over the bar and the ever-dangerous Keenan also shot just wide.

India and Argentina play intense second half

Argentina started the second half with verve and intent. Leaving attackers high, the Los Leones worked hard to gain possession in the midfield and then set up counter attacks.

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Argentina thought they had won a penalty stroke in the 32nd minute when Agustin Bugallo looked to have been fouled on his way to goal but the initial decision of a penalty stroke was overturned.

Amit Rohidas' men soon wrested the momentum back. Mandeep Singh was unlucky not to get on the end of an aerial that eliminated most of Argentina's defense but seconds later the hosts were on the attack again.

Harmanpreet had another chance to add to his goal tally with a penalty corner but his shot flew just wide.

In this most intense of games, it was Argentina’s turn to strike next. A quick attack, spear-headed by Martin Ferreiro, led to a penalty corner. Nicolas della Torre was able to send his shot past PR Sreejesh to make it 2-1.

Following the Argentina goal, India seemed to lose their structure a little. The visiting side were able to take advantage and bring the scores level when Tomas Domene sent home a lovely penalty stroke after Acosta was fouled in the circle. With nine minutes left on the clock, the momentum changed again.

The hosts managed to wrest the lead back when Jugraj scored his second stupendous penalty corner of the day. Santiago had no chance of stopping the shot as it flew past him. Minutes later, Jugraj thought he had his hat-trick but the shot was disallowed following an umpire’s video referral.

A fantastic piece of skill by Ferreiro saw the forward twist and turn through the opposition defense. His strength, while in possession of the ball, was superb and the resulting shot was world class. With just over three minutes left, the scores were once more equal.

Just when it seemed that the match would go into a shoot-out for a second consecutive day, Jugraj and Mandeep Singh combined to score the most amazing goal. Jugraj fired the ball into the circle and Mandeep Singh touched the ball to seal the victory.

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Edited by Steffi
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