Hat-trick hero Nicolas della Torre’s penalty corner conversion in the dying seconds saved 2016 Olympic champion Argentina’s blushes as it secured a 5-5 draw against a spirited France in a nail-biting Pool-A contest of the Hockey World Cup at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium here on Friday.
In a closely-fought duel that witnessed a goal apiece from either side in the final minute, seventh-placed Argentina held its nerve to avoid a second straight World Cup loss to its 11th-ranked opponent2, despite French captain Victor Charlet’s spectacular four-goal effort.
While Argentina reached the crossovers as the second-positioned side, France progressed as third.
Argentina seized the initiative through Nicolas Keenan’s early goal, but France erased the deficit through Etienne Tynevez.
Following a 1-1 score-line at half-time, penalty corner specialist della Torre put Argentina ahead once again.
Amid plenty of end-to-end action, France applied pressure to pump in two quick goals through Charlet.
Argentina earned a series of penalty corners towards the end of the third quarter and della Torre got the equaliser.
France, which successfully used the right flank, relied on the giant Charlet’s power, precision and variety of angles to strike twice even as Martin Ferreiro pulled one back.
French first runner Charlet’s ejection helped Argentina as della Torre achieved a face-saving equaliser, which also completed his hat-trick.
France had stunned Argentina 5-3 in their last World Cup meeting in 2018.
Donning its beautiful ‘alternate jersey,’ Australia rode on four-star Blake Govers’ versatile goal-scoring ability to decimate South Africa 9-2 and finish atop Pool-A.
Australia 9 (Blake Govers 4, 15, 19-ps, 20; Tom Craig 8, Jake Harvie 22; Daniel Beale 28; Jeremy Hayward 32; Tim Brand 47) bt South Africa 2 (Nqobile Ntuli 8; Tevin Kok 58); France 5 (Etienne Tynevez 11; Victor Charlet 36-ps, 38, 49, 60-ps) drew with Argentina (Nicolas Keenan 3; Nicolas della Torre 34, 42, 60; Martin Ferreiro 51).