Spain and India drew 2-2 in regulation time and for the second-straight game Spain were unable to perform in the shoot-out. A 3-1 shootout result, thanks to some brilliant net minding from Pathak, gave India the bonus point. In Mendoza, the Leonas came out with their free-flowing tempo but seemed just a bit off stride as they edged Belgium 1-0. Valentina Costa cleaned up a messy penalty corner for the game’s lone goal. The Argentina men battled it out end-to-end with a feisty Belgian side and a late penalty corner finish gave the Leones the 2-1 victory.
India v Spain (men) – Kalinga Hockey Stadium, Bhubaneswar (IND)
India took a sweet revenge as they beat Spain 3-1 in shootout (full-time score: 2-2) in a high voltage contest of the FIH Hockey Pro League 2022-23 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
Both the teams got off to a blistering start earning penalty corners in every quarter. But it was Indian skipper Harmanpreet who opened the scoring for India with a powerful flick in the 12th minute. The teams couldn't convert from the set piece and went into the half-time break with India leading 1-0. Harmanpreet, who's currently the top goal scorer in this year's FIH Hockey Pro League, showed his class again as he converted another penalty corner into goal just two minutes after the start of the second half.
Spain worked the ball well to penetrate India's circle but could not beat the patience and prowess of keeper Pathak. Max Caldas' men finally broke the wall in the 48th minute when Spain skipper Marc Miralles fired a penalty corner flick low past Pathak. It was then Spain who took control of the match with waves of attacks and a bit of flat-footed Indian defence. Pere Amat converted for Spain off the foot of Jugraj after putting on an individual showcase on the right baseline. Spain got three penalty corners in the final minute, the last of which saw a Marc Miralles flick fly just wide of the post.
Despite displays of brilliance inside regulation time, it was the shoot-out and set pieces that plagued Spain as, including yesterday’s result, finished the day going one-for-nine on shootouts. With only Gerard Calpes being able to convert, it was India who nabbed the bonus point after India tallied on finishes from Harmanpreet Singh, Raj Kumar Pal, and Abhishek. Undoubtedly Krishan B Pathak was named the Player of the Match for his heroics between the posts.
"We have to avoid cards,” said Pathak about India’s three green and two yellow cards. “Many cards in the second half allowed Spain to make a comeback. Our defense gave away some easy penalty corners. We play Spain in our first match of the Hockey World Cup. So, we will go back and do some video analysis to understand our mistakes. Personally, it was a really good game for me and I will look to carry forward this form into the next matches.”
"We missed many penalty corners,” described Spain captain Marc Miralles, whose team will face return to the same venue for the Hockey World Cup. “In the first half also, we couldn't play to our potential. I would say we were unlucky to not get those three points. Our boys showed enough aggression and skills in the second half of the game and hence we were able to make a comeback”.
Argentina v Belgium (women & men) – Estadio Mendocino de Hockey, Mendoza (ARG)
The score was only 1-0 for Argentina over the Belgian women and while the Leonas showed moments of their iconic, flowing style of play, they lacked a bit of commitment in their attacking circle. Credit to Belgium who had a gutsy defensive performance and were ultimately unlucky to score.
Argentina had a chance with a nice ball in to the circle but Maria Campoy was unable to get the touch at the far post. Belgium’s Pauline Leclef took a quick free hit Argentina’s circle and fed Camille Belis whose shot was steered away by Cristina Cosentino in goal for the Leonas.
It was not until the final minutes of the second quarter that the Leonas were able to find their go-ahead goal. An unfortunate back-stick after a low tackle from Emma Puvrez gave Argentina the penalty corner chance. It was not pretty as Valentina Costa’s shot richoteted around and after both Julieta Jankunas and Eugenia Trinchietti ping-ponged the ball it bounced back in front of the net where Costa was able to finish and make it 1-0.
In the second half Argentina were firing but not able to find the efficiency in the circle. Jankunas had a reverse-stick blast that went just wide of Maria Granatto’s stick. In the other end a fabulous left-side attack saw some one-two passing leaving Leclef to feed Emily White but her shot hit Cosentino and then the crossbar. Argentina had penalty corner chances, including a flick that Trinchinetti couldn’t get a stick on, and waves of circle penetrations but the Belgian defence was equal to the task and just unlucky not to capitalize themselves. Costa’s lone goal was all that split the difference in the game.
Rocio Sanchez was named player of the game and said after the match: “I think we were a little bit tired because of yesterday’s match (against Germany) but Argentina always wants to win. It was a good match, maybe not our best, we could do better but it was okay. Sometimes we didn’t play that well but today we won and that’s the important thing.”
Belgium’s Helene Brasseur spoke on behalf of her side: “I think we started the first half not so good but then came back and we fought and showed we can play hockey so it was much better in the second half. We were unlucky not to score but we keep learning every game and take that with us to the next game and tomorrow that’s Germany.”
On the men’s side it was an energetic affair between the 2016 and 2020 Olympic champions, this time it was Argentina on top but only barely, sealing the game with a late penalty corner goal to take down Belgium 2-1.
The opening quarter was what would be expected from two podium-topping teams as Belgium got on the board in the third minute. Sebastien Dockier picked up a cross ball and his sweep shot hit the inside of both posts and Cedric Charlier was there to finish in behind Argentine keeper Tomas Santiago. Less than five minutes later and Lucas Vila showed his experience as he wasted no time picking up a mishandled ball by Belgium defender Gauthier Boccard. Vila in two quick strides was already shooting on his back-hand before keeper Vincent Vanasch could get set providing the equalizer.
Argentina looked a little tidier than Belgium, especially with their speed and creativity through midfield. Matias Rey had back-to-back shots denied by Vanasch in the second quarter, while Martin Ferreiro nearly got on the end of a brilliant ball from Lucas Martinez.
Belgium continued to look a little sloppy in their backfield as Martinez picked up a cross-field ball between the Belgium defenders and unleashed a back-hand shot that flew just under the stick of a sliding Maico Casella to start the third quarter. Belgium did have their chances from set pieces. Drag flicking ace Alexander Hendrickx was unable to beat Santiago despite trying from a few angles.
In the final quarter Lucas Toscani had a gift bouncing in front of the Belgian goal with no defenders in sight but the 23-year-old couldn’t connect on the ball. With under six minutes to go in the game and Argentina pressing, a stick foul on Federico Monja gave Argentina their first penalty corner of the game. A series of re-awarded penalty corners eventually led to Nicolas della Torre firing one in between Vanasch and defender Arthur de Sloover.
In the dying minutes of the game it was almost unimaginable how Belgium couldn’t score. First, Santiago denied two blasts from Arthur van Doren and then a miss-trap on a penalty corner resulted in an off-paced shot from Hendrickx, again saved by Santiago. The resulting free hit on the sideline still resulted in another blast for Belgium but the ball went wide of the Argentine goal to leave Belgium to suffer the 2-1 defeat.
Argentina’s Lucas Martinez was named player of the game and said after the match: “I think it was a very intense game of course playing Belgium, the last Olympic champs a very dangerous team. We are happy to compete and happy to play well. I think we won but we won by playing and trying and I think we were quite dominant in the game so we are very happy with the result.”
“It’s always difficult to play a team in front of their home crowd,” commented Belgium captain Felix Denayer. “I think Argentina did very well today. I think we had enough changes to get back into the game so that will be something we have to look at.”
FIH Pro League action continues on 7 November in Mendoza, Argentina as Germany men and women will face Belgium men and women.
FIH Pro League – 6 November 2022
Kalinga Hockey Stadium, Bhubaneswar (IND)
Result: Men’s Match 8
India 2, Spain 2 (3-1 shootout)
Player of the Match: Krishan B Pathak (IND)
Umpires: Coen Van Bunge (NED), Ben Goentgen (GER), Michiel Otten (NED-reserve), Rawi Anbananthan (MAS-Video)
Estadio Mendocino de Hockey, Mendoza (ARG)
Result: Women’s Match 3
Argentina 1, Belgium 0
Player of the Game: Rocio Sanchez (ARG)
Umpires: Tyler Klenk (CAN), Federico Garcia (URU), Bruce Bale (ENG-video), Rachel Williams (ENG-reserve)
Result: Men’s Match 9
Argentina 2, Belgium 1
Player of the Match: Lucas Martinez (ARG)
Umpires: Bruce Bale (ENG), Rachel Williams (ENG), Tyler Klenk (CAN-reserve), Federico Garcia (URU-video)
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