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Hockey: India survive late onslaught to beat Argentina

Last updated on: August 09, 2016 22:48 IST

After two victories India rise to second in Group B

IMAGE: India's Chinglensana celebrates with team members after scoring against Argentina during the qualifying round match at the Rio Olympics. Photograph: PTI

India survived a final-quarter onslaught from Argentina for a nail-biting 2-1 victory that enhanced their quarter-final chances at the men's hockey competition of the Rio Olympics, on Tuesday.

Their second victory in three games in the pool stage took them to second with six points and virtually secured a quarter-final berth.

India took the lead through Chinglensana Singh (8th minute) before fellow-Manipuri player Kothajit Singh doubled the scoreline with a field strike in the 35th minute.

The victory is of great significance as India last defeated Argentina way back in 2009 Champions Challenge, where they won 3-2.

Both teams played out a 3-3 draw in the six-nation tournament in Valencia ahead of the Games.

India next plays London Olympics silver medalists the Netherlands in their penultimate pool match on Thursday.

India dominated Argentina in the first three quarters, but came under tremendous pressure from the Los Leones in the final 15 minutes during which they conceded as many as five penalty-corners.

Trailing 0-2, the Argentines went all out in the final quarter as the Indians looked out of sorts.

It was a tense final quarter for the Indians after drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat pulled one back in the 49th minute by converting Argentina's first penalty-corner with a lethal strike that beat goalkeeper P R Sreejesh all ends up.

It looked as if it would turn out to be another heart break for the Indians -- after the 1-2 loss to Germany on Monday, having conceded a goal in the dying moments -- as the game was mostly played in their half.

IMAGE: India's Kothajit celebrates with teammates after scoring India's second goal against Argentina. Photograph: PTI

If not for Sreejesh, India could have suffered their second successive defeat at the Games. He pulled off as many as five saves to deny Peillat and the Argentines.

Possession wise it was even in the opening quarter but India had the better share of exchanges and created more scoring chances than Argentina.

India's first real scoring opportunity was in the seventh minute when S V Sunil cut through inside the Argentina circle from the right flank and found Akashdeep Singh, whose push was saved by rival goalkeeper Vivaldi.

That followed India's first penalty-corner but Vivalidi again came to Argentina's rescue, thwarting Rupinder Pal Singh's fierce flick.

India maintained the pressure and secured their second penalty-corner in the next minute. This time Chinglensana converted the chance after a small goof-up to give the side the lead.

IMAGE: India's Harmanpreet clears the ball during the match against Argentina . Photograph: PTI

Chinglensana failed to stop the push cleanly, but made amends for his mistake and came up with a shot that somehow found the back of the net, going over a diving Vivaldi's arm.

Towards the end of the first quarter, Argentina exerted pressure on the Indian defence and were unlucky as Manuel Brunet struck the post.

They came out attacking in the second quarter but the Indian defence stood tall to thwart any danger.

The Indians, on the other hand, were slow to get off the blocks in the second quarter but as time passed by they got into their groove and enjoyed the possession.

Both India and Argentina created chances but goals eluded both them as Sreejesh-led side went into the breather with a one-goal cushion.

The penultimate quarter after the change of ends belonged to India as they controlled the proceedings and scored five minutes into restart through Kothajit, who pounced on a loose ball to find the net.

The final quarter completely belonged to Argentina but the Indians did just enough to maintain their composure and avoid a repeat of the match against Germany.