A resilient Indian men's hockey team scored a resounding 3-1 win over defending Olympic champions Argentina in their fourth Pool A match at the Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo on Thursday.
India’s third win saw them propel to the second spot in the table, with the team looking in good touch ahead of the knockouts.
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It was India's third win in the group stage and they will next square off against hosts Japan on Friday.
The lone goal for Argentina came from Maico Casella’s stick in the 48th minute.
Indian hockey team coach Graham Reid was a happy man after the win and said:
“It was a good performance today. This is what Argentina can do, they sit back in the game, and then all of a sudden, they come and score a corner. You know, these things can happen when you play a team like Argentina.”
Taking positives from the game, Reid said he was happy to see the Indian hockey team stick to their game plan. He added:
“We again put our opportunities away, we created enough. But what was good is that we didn't let that frustrate us. We stayed patient and stuck with our game plan. I'm very happy, it can be a bit stressful too for me but we just now need to play well against our next opponent - Japan.”
India will next meet Japan and a win will put the former through to the knock-outs. Speaking about the upcoming match, Reid said:
“We need to play it as though it is the quarterfinals and we will be keeping an eye on what happens in the other pool at the same time.”
India showed the right intent against Argentina
The Indian men's hockey team resolved to put Argentina under the pump right from the start and it was evident from their dominant ball possession. The Indians tested the Argentine defense with several circle penetrations. India's midfield and defense looked compact and kept the Argentine forwards out of the circle.
The Indian forwards lacked a finishing touch, especially Dilpreet Singh, as they didn’t muster enough power to beat the Argentine goalkeeper.
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Argentina’s defense was alert and agile and that meant India’s circle penetrations didn’t yield much results.
India scored when Varun Kumar picked up a good injection from Shamsher Singh in the 43rd minute. However, Argentina soon restored parity when they scored off a penalty corner in the 48th minute through a masterful dragflick from Maico Casella.
India took the lead again with just over three minutes remaining on the clock when Vivek Prasad scored a rebound off the Argentine goalkeeper. The original shot was taken by Dipreet Singh, who was only able to find the custodian.
Harmanpreet Singh carved the result in stone when he converted a penalty corner in the dying minutes of the game as the Indian hockey team dished out a commanding performance.