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Argentina hold India with late goal

August 24, 2004 01:03 IST

Today's match results

India 2 Argentina 2
Australia 1 Netherlands 2
South Korea 2 Germany 2
Pakistan 8 Great Britain 2
Spain 3 Egypt 0
New Zealand 4 South Africa 1

Another goal in the dying minutes put paid to India's hopes of beating Argentina and snatching only their second victory in Group B in the men's Olympic hockey tournament in Athens on Monday.

A 2-2 draw in their concluding league match enabled India finish fourth in the group and stay in contention in the classification for the fifth to eight positions, where they will play Pakistan, who finished third in Group A ahead of South Korea after an 8-2 victory over Great Britain in their concluding league match.

It was another lacklustre performance by the Indians. Only this time they were able to take a point despite the poor show. Had South Africa beaten New Zealand earlier in the day, they might have well had to play for ninth to 12 positions.

In fact, thanks to a fine display by goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza and poor finishing by the Argentinians, India were able to escape with a draw. Had Argentina capitalized on the chances they had in attacking field play, leave aside the nine penalty-corners they forced, the story may have been different.

Argentina started off in whirlwind fashion and stormed the Indian goal. They forced their first penalty-corner as early as the fourth minute but goalkeeper D'Souza brought off a smart save. Four minutes later D'Souza again stood in the way of an Argentina goal, thwarting Matias Paredes, who snatched the ball after Harpal Singh failed to trap cleanly and essayed a stiff shot.

With the Indians unable to come up with anything constructive, it was Argentina who called the shot right through the first session. But much against the run of play India struck from their first good move down the middle in the 33rd minute. Vikram Pillay put Dhanraj Pillay in possession with a nice pass and the veteran of four Olympics advanced and squared to Gagan Ajit Singh, who tapped home.

Immediately from the restart, Argentina came back strongly and forced their second penalty-corner but D'Souza did well to save.

India could have increased the lead in the second minute of the second session but Prabhjot Singh, who had a very poor match, failed to score.

India came by a good chance in the 48th minute but Dhanraj Pillay, after being put through by Arjun Halappa and entering the circle was foiled by the Argentina keeper. Off the rebound, Baljit Singh Dhillon swept the ball over the bar.

The Argentinians continued to press and were rewarded in the 60th minute when Matias Villa scored off their sixth penalty-corner.

A minute later D'Souza came up with another good save to deny the South Americans the lead.

But India regained the lead in the 60th minute when the trio of Vikarm, Dhanraj and Gagan Ajit combined again to split the Argentina defence. It was quick one-two passing bout between the trio before Dhanraj laid the ball on a platter for an unmarked Gagan Ajit to slam home.

For the remaining minutes, the Indian defence was given a torrid time. India could come up with just one chance during that period but Gagan Ajit shot out from close.

With a minute to go for the hooter Argentina forced their ninth penalty-corner and Matias Villa made no mistake with his drag flick to the earn them a well-deserved draw.

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