The conditions were damp. The storm and rain had made the turf wet and in the build up to match, there was a doubt if the match would even go ahead on Friday. India and Argentina waited for the final confirmation before the game. The Bhubneswar crowd had braved the rain to come to the stadium to see the match. But in contrast to the build up and the conditions, India and Argentina played a thrilling game which made the wait worth but the result was not what the crowd wanted.
Argentina, the Olympic champions, scored the only goal of the game and beat India 1-0 in the semi-final of the Hockey World League Final 2017 and qualified for their first ever final of the tournament. India were also chasing the same feat having reached the same stage last year but fell short. The reason was mainly because of some strong defending and goalkeeping from Argentina who will now face the winner of the other semi-final between Germany and Australia to be played on Saturday. India will play the bronze medal against the loser of that semi-final.
Argentina got a penalty corner in the 17th minute and Gonzalo Peillat made no mistake in dumping the ball inside India’s goal. His powerful hit was towards the left of the Indian goalkeeper and Akash Chitke had no chance to stop it. India failed to convert the two penalty corner they got in the match mainly due to the brilliant saves from the Argentina goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi.
Earlier, Netherlands and England had also played on a wet surfaced and struggled just like Argentina and India. But the Argentina side adapted to the conditions better than India and played with areal passes and slower pace of the game. India could not make most of their strength — counter attacks — which were slowed down by the wet pitch.
As field goal were too difficult in such conditions, Argentina made most of the first penalty corner they got and Peillat was wasted no time in converting it and giving Argentina the lead. India played better in the second half and secured a penalty corner but Rupinder Pal Singh failed to convert it. India got back-to-back penalty corners but the second one was saved by Vivaldi.
The final quarter saw India attack on numerous occasions with Askashdeep Singh penetrating the circle but he could not finish even one of them. Facing a defeat, India pulled out their goalkeeper for the final five minutes and fielded an extra player. India once again came close in the second-last minute but a Manpreet Singh pass was deflected wide by Mandeep Singh.
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