Hockey World Cup 2018: Argentina downs Spain in thriller, New Zealand pips France

Agustin Mazilli and Gonzalo Peillat score two goals apiece as Argentina records a 4-3 win.

Euphoric: Agustin Mazilli (left) reacts after scoring Argentina’s second goal in a topsy-turvy contest in Bhubaneswar.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Olympic champion Argentina relied on braces by Agustin Mazilli and Gonzalo Peillat to rally twice and record an exciting 4-3 win over a formidable Spain in the opening Pool A match of the Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here on Thursday.

The contest, featuring six players from both sides appearing in their fourth World Cup and one, Matias Paredes, playing his fifth, had a thrilling start as the opening quarter produced five goals.

Read | Argentina vs Spain - HIGHLIGHTS

Free flowing hockey kept the spectators engaged as Spain attacked in unison from the left and stunned Argentina in the third minute through Enrique Gonzalez’s lovely goal off an Alvaro Iglesias pass following an exchange inside the circle. Argentina answered back in no time when Mazilli brilliantly deflected Juan Lopez’s cross. Spain went up again through Josep Romeu’s penalty corner conversion from a smart variation. Romeu found a diagonal angle to launch his rasping shot along the ground.

Comeback

The Latin Americans fought back in style, pumping in two goals — Mazilli’s diving deflection and Peillat’s low short corner conversion — in the final minute of the quarter.

Action-packed contest: The goal fest started in the third minute; Enrique Gonzalez (right) gave Spain the lead. Photo: Biswaranjan Rout

 

After a quiet second period, when both sides resorted to tight marking, the Europeans outwitted Argentina with a fast-paced plan to draw parity. Alvaro Iglesias’ reverse hit from left rebounded off the post but Vicenc Ruiz hammered it in from the right.

Argentinians focused on their defence by closing the gaps and keeping the ball. It cut down Spain’s pace and wrested the lead again through Peillat’s strike, which got deflected from a defender’s stick. Argentina remained unaffected even though Spain replaced its goalkeeper to press harder and the former was one man down towards the close.

The result
  • Argentina 4 (Mazilli 4 and 15, Peillat 15 and 49) bt Spain 3 (Gonzalez 3, Romeu 14, Ruiz 35).

New Zealand beats France

New Zealand pipped France 2—1 in its opening game of the Hockey World Cup 2018 at the Kalinga stadium on Thursday.

After a goalless first quarter, Kane Russell scored for New Zealand in the 17th minute and as France failed to convert opportunities in the later part of the second quarter, the Kiwis enjoyed a 1—0 lead at half—time.

Later, a long pass from midfield was well controlled by Stephen Jenness, who made no mistake in finding the back of the net, making the scoreline read 2—0 in New Zealand’s favour with just four minutes of play left.

It seemed France wouldn’t be able to open its account but Victor Charlet converted a penalty corner in the 59th minute to make the score 2—1.

(With inputs from IANS)