Tonight marked the 200th FIH Pro League women’s game and it was the hosts, Argentina, who came out on top, 1-0, over Great Britain. The game was also a milestone for Leonas midfielder Eugenia Trinchinetti, celebrating her 150th international game, while Great Britain captain Hollie Pearne-Webb celebrated her 100th. Julieta Jankunas’ back-hand finish in the third minute was the lone goal in the game despite Argentina dominating in possession and attack.

In the men’s match up it was the fourth shootout of the six games hosted in Santiago del Estero. The Argentina men climbed back from a 2-1 deficit to tie Great Britain late in the game and force a shootout. GB keeper Oliver Payne made two key saves in the shootout to give his side the 4-2 score line and bonus point. Undefeated in their four games, Great Britain now sit atop the FIH men's Pro League standings.

The teams now wrap up in Argentina and Pro League play will continue in February 2023 with hosts, Australia.

Argentina vs Great Britain (women & men) – Santiago del Estero, Argentina

Argentina wasted little time getting on the board, pouncing on a poor decision from Great Britain defender Sarah Robertson. Delfina Thome charged down the right side drawing the GB defence towards her. The ball was smashed across the field to a waiting Julieta Jankunas and her back-hand shot rippled the top of the net for the 1-0 lead and eventual game winner.

While Argentina was certainly the more polished team with their performance, the young Great Britain side did have opportunity. On a penalty corner, Grace Balsdon showed her strength from the top battery forcing an acrobatic glove save from Argentine keeper Clara Barberi.

Later in the game Jankunas blasted a shot that took a floating touch from Thome but keeper Maddie Hinch did well to stay up and made the save with her right hip. Isabelle Petter had a gift of an opportunity, taking a quick free hit and getting lots of space to fire a back-hand shot but the ball sailed high off target.

In the final quarter Argentina really made the GB defence work. Maria Granatto was all over the pitch twisting and turning through red shirts as if she was just in training. In the final minutes she helped earn the Leonas a penalty corner but they couldn’t connect at the top of the circle. Then, Sophie Hamilton and Hannah Martin worked the right side and did everything right but pull the trigger to level the game. Jankunas’ goal in the third minute was all that stood between the teams and the Leonas enjoyed three points and a 1-0 win.

Player of the Match Maria Granatto said: “I’m really happy today because we played really well and (this player of the match trophy is for the team, for really hard work and we played together the whole time. I’m very happy for our win today”

Captain Hollie Pearne-Webb said after the match: “It was a lot better for us in terms of us showing up individually today. The potential as a squad is good but I don’t think we were great here. We are right at the beginning of our journey here as a young squad.”

The Leonas finish this Pro League run in Santiago del Estero with two wins over GB and two losses to the Netherlands and while they showed their potential, were really lacking their usual efficiencies in the attacking end. For GB, it’s all about growth. Playing their first matches as a group since the Tokyo Olympic Games and facing two of the best teams in the world was certainly a quick way to get up to speed. Argentina do regain top spot in the pool but the Netherlands have a clean sheet with four wins in four games.

The men’s competition also started off with a quick Argentinian goal when Tomas Domene’s deception and power hooked a drag flick past the out-stretched foot of Oliver Payne on the first penalty corner of the game. Before the end of the quarter Great Britain were able to find parody through a superb finish from Phil Roper on Great Britain’s first penalty corner.

Liam Sanford will leave Argentina with his first Great Britain goal as he finished a textbook penalty corner deflection at the far post thanks to the strong delivery from Sam Ward. GB enjoyed the 2-1 lead heading into half time.

Oliver Payne was called on to deny Domene from the penalty stroke mark and that put all the tensions on the fourth quarter.

The teams traded yellow cards late in the fourth and Argentina were able to capitalize when their yellow expired. Lucas Toscani turned and smashed a ball off his back foot to equalize with five minutes to go in the game. All the drama ensued with video referrals, umpire radios having a glitch and time stopped for injuries but the game settled as a 2-2 draw.

Payne made two key saves in the shootout to give Great Britain the bonus point with a 4-2 score line. It’s also the third shootout win for Great Britain while in Argentina for the Pro League to propel them to the top of the standings.

Player of the match James Albery said after the game: “It was a physical game, tough game but they were (a competitive) opponent. We never thought we would play a game against Argentina after they win the World Cup final in football so the atmosphere here was amazing. We were happy to get the win in the shootout.”

“We played well,” said Domene after the match. “What great thing for the team is that we fight until the end. I thought the game was very physical and for a moment we were in it and we are still happy.”

FIH Women’s Pro League action will take a break and resume February 2023 at Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre in Australia as the Hockeyroos will host China and Germany for a six-day set. Men’s action will also take aim in Australia as the Kookaburras will host Argentina and Spain in Hobart from 28 February to 5 March.

FIH Pro League – 18 December 2022

Santiago del Estero, Argentina (ARG)

Result: Women’s Match 12
Argentina 1, Great Britain 0
Player of the Game: Maria Granatto (ARG)
Umpires: Sean Rapaport (RSA), Maggie Giddens (USA), Laurine Delforge (BEL-reserve), Ayanna McClean (TTO-video)

Result: Men’s Match 18
Argentina 2, Great Britain 2 (2-4 Shootout)
Player of the Match: James Albery (GBR)
Umpires: Federico Garcia (URU), Laurine Delforge (BEL), Maggie Giddens (USA-reserve), Sean Rapaport (RSA-video)

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