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|July 29, 2001||
Argentina triumph, India fifth
Spurred on by a brilliant Jorge Lombi hat-trick, Argentina beat Spain 5-4 in a thrilling final in the men's World Cup hockey qualifying tournament even as India signed off with the fifth place, defeating Japan 4-3.
India, who qualified on Saturday with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Canada, had more consolation on Sunday as they came back with a strong finish to end the tournament on a winning note.
It was Japan who forged ahead in the sixth minute from a penalty-corner through Tamabori Takahiko, but Daljit Singh Dhillon replied immediately from a field goal to level the scores.
In the eighth minute, India went into the lead from a penalty-corner, with Baljit Singh Dhillon scoring. But the Japanese, were back on target, drawing level in the 11th minute through Takahiko again from a penalty-corner.
With four goals coming in the first 11 minutes, the pace slowed down thereafter before Baljit SIngh Dhillon sounded the boards from a penalty-corner in the 25th minute.
The Japanese were not to be outdone and replied within five minutes, as Kawada Takiya made it 3-3 from a field goal before the teams went into the breather level.
Daljit Singh Dhillon got his second goal of the match in the 46th minute, which proved to be the match-winner for India and see them finish fifth in the 16-team tournament,.
Argentina led 2-1 at the break, and then by the 67th minute increased the lead to 5-2 before Spain struck in the last two minutes to reduce the margin to 4-5.
For Lombi, it was a brilliant tournament and he ended as the top scorer with 19 goals, a majority of them coming off drag-flicks from penalty-corners.
Argentina scored through Almada and Lombi in the 3rd and 12th minutes to take a 2-0 lead before Spain reduced the margin in the 33rd minute through Edward Tubau. In the 44th minute, Carlos Retegui scored to make it 3-1 for Argentina. Fabregas reduced the margin to 2-3 for Spain.
But in the 60th and 67th minutes, Lombi was right on target to pull Argentina away to a 5-2 lead. Spain fought back and in the 69th minute scored through Pol Amat off a penalty-corner and then in the last minute off another penalty-corner, Quintana made it 4-5.
Poland showed that they are a hockey power in the making when they thrashed Belgium 5-2 to clinch the bronze medal.
Both the teams were 1-1 at the break before the Poles, with some superb hockey in the circle, pulled away for a big win.
New Zealand booked the final ticket when they thrashed Canada 4-0 to clinch the seventh place.
It was Belgium, who stunned Poland with a goal in the 26th minute as Geens flicked in a penalty stroke, beating goalkeeper Pobuta.
Two minutes later, Poland equalised off a counter-attack when Tomascz Choczaj spun into the circle and neatly placed the ball past the keeper. Poland took the lead in the 43rd minute when keeper Caudron deliberately stopped a Polish defender and Gzreszczak converted the stroke as Poland led 2-1.
Poland made it 3-1 when Piotr Mikula calmly went into the Belgian circle and tapped in for a 3-1 lead. In the 48th minute, Belgium who were pressing scored off a penalty corner when Beunen flicked in to reduce the score to 2-3.
With the three minutes left for the hooter, Mikula moved into the circle and his pass found Nyckowiak who took a snap shot to make it 4-2.
In the last minute, Poland made it 5-2 when Tomazs Choczaj scored his second goal.
The final placings of the qualifier:
Player of the Tournament: Jorge Lombi (Argentina)
The 16 teams for the 2002 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur:
Mail Sports Editor
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