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Argentina sight Azlan semis slot
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May 07, 2007 18:23 IST
Last Updated: May 07, 2007 22:06 IST

A late goal by Argentina's Lucas Rafael Rossi knocked China out of the 16th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup eight-nation men's hockey tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia, on Monday.

Rossi's 63rd minute strike gave Argentina 3-2 victory and all but guaranteed the South Americans a spot in the semi-finals.

Earlier, Rodrigo Nicolas Vila (13th and 32nd minute) had struck twice while China's replies came from Xian Tang Liu (25th) and Yi Song (59th).

It was Argentina's second victory in the four-team Group A following their 1-0 verdict over Australia on Sunday.

China, who went down 5-4 to India, thus crashed to their second defeat in as many matches.

The match was close as China twice came from behind before Rossi slammed home in the 63rd to seal the issue for Argentina.

Argentina were on the attack from the start and Vila put them ahead in the 13th minute with a reverse hit after being put through by Manuel Brunet, who had broken through down the middle.

China kept their poise to equalise when Liu capped a brilliant counter-attack. Yi Song outpaced the Argentine defence before flicking the ball to his left to Liu, who was left totally free inside the circle.

However, Argentina regained the initiative when Vila deflected home from a penalty corner as they crossed over with a 2-1 lead.

On resumption, neither side was able to establish dominance and most of the exchanges were confined to the midfield.

With time running out, the desperate Chinese stepped up the pressure and Song converted their fourth penalty corner to make it 2-2.

Ironically, the conversion was from a direct attempt in contrast to the rather laborious indirect tries they made earlier and were easily parried.

So engrossed were the Chinese in scoring another goal that they left the defence open and Argentina hit back with Rossi finding the net from Augustin Esteban Corradini's pass at the end of a counter-attack.

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