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Aussies storm past Argentina into final
Ivan Crasto |
August 23, 2003 16:58 IST
Last Updated: August 23, 2003 21:47 IST
On Friday, India did Australia a favour by beating Pakistan and, in the process, opening a door for them to get into the final of the Champions Trophy hockey tournament.
The Aussies returned the favour on Saturday when they swamped Argentina 8-3 in their last league match to enter the final. That big margin of victory also enabled India to move from fifth place to fourth in the league table on better goal difference and snatch a place in the play-off match for the bronze medal against Pakistan.
India now have a chance of emulating their best showing -- a third place in the 1982 edition -- in this elite six-nation competiton.
Saturday's match between Australia and Argentina, at the Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen, near Amsterdam, was a thrilling affair, played at scorching pace. But it was Australia's ability to convert their all-round superiority into goals that saw them win handsomely. With good promptings from their midfield, the forwards, with hard running off the ball, repeatedly made inroads past the Argentinian 25-yard line. And when in the circle they resorted to one-touch release of the ball to shred the Argentinian defence.
The Australians should have been a goal up in the first 10 minutes. Troy Elder's flick from their first penalty corner was well-saved by goalkeeper Pablo Moreira, but Craig Victory muffed the rebound, hitting wide with an open goal in front of him.
Argentina came by just one chance during that period, but Australia's goalkeeper Mark Hickman did well to glove Jorge Lombi's flick from Argentina's first penalty corner.
Australia opened the scoring in the 11th minute when Victory tore down the left and worked his way to the baseline from where he tapped to the top of the circle for Mike McCann to finish.
Victory, who proved a thorn in the flesh of the Argentinian defence, made it 2-0 in the 27th minute, racing down the middle all by himself, breaking through a couple of Argentines, and pushing over the advancing Moreira for his first goal of the tournament.
Immediately on resumption in the second half, Australia increased their lead when Grant Schubert notched his eighth goal of the tournament, finishing a fine run by Adam Commens from the backline.
The three-goal lead must have had Indian supporters smiling as that margin would have been enough for India to climb a place above Argentina.
But the redoubtable Lombi pulled one back for Argentina from the team's fourth penalty corner, sending his flick low and between Aussie 'keeper Hickman's legs.
But McCann wiped out any visions of an Argentinian fightback as he scored from Australia's fourth penalty corner in the 53rd minute. This time Elder faked his flick and tapped a diagonal pass for McCann to sweep into goal and make it 4-1.
Two minutes later, Elder converted a penalty stroke, which was awarded after Robert Hammond was brought down by Moreira while advancing to score in the 55th minute.
Argentina reduced the margin to 2-5 a minute later from their sixth penalty corner. From an indirect variation, Lombi fed Carlos Retegui, who made no mistake.
Schubert and Hammond then scored within a minute from each other to make the score 7-2 before Tristam Woodhouse completed the rout in the 63rd minute.
Lombi scored his second goal of the match from field play a minute from time to reduce the margin of defeat to 8-3.