Hockey World Cup 2018: France shocks Argentina 5-3, Spain eliminated

France causes one of the biggest upsets of Hockey World Cup 2018 by defeating World No. 2 Argentina 5-3 in a Pool A goalfest at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.

Ecstatic: Victor Charlet (centre) celebrates after scoring a goal against Argentina on Thursday.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

The lowest-ranked France caused one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Hockey World Cup by handing Olympic champion Argentina a 5-3 win in a Pool A goalfest at the Kalinga Stadium here on Thursday.

In a captivating duel, World No. 20 France’s big win over the its World No. 2 opponent not only earned it a place in the crossovers but also nudged the eighth-placed Spain out of the competition.

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Argentina earned a direct qualification by taking the top spot with six points. France, and New Zealand, which rallied to hold Spain to a 2-2 draw, bagged second and third places respectively after tying on four points. France was second on a better goal difference. Coached by Dutch great Jeroen Delmee, France reaped the benefits of its rigorous preparations in the last one year and maintained its unbeaten record against Argentina.

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Without getting overawed by Argentina’s profile, the Frenchmen fought fire with fire. Argentina flexed its muscles early on but struggled to get the finishing.

Magical stick work

France, playing the showpiece event after 28 years, replied strongly and presented a rare package of individual skills and tactical improvisation to pump in four of the five goals scored in the second period. The experienced Hugo Genestet outwitted a few Los Leones defenders with his magical stick work inside the circle to draw first blood.

France's Hugo Genestet (in dark blue) negotiates his way past Argentinian players. Photo: Biswaranjan Rout

 

Before Argentina could recover from the shock, France established a 3-0 lead. Captain Victor Charlet bamboozled the Latin American defence with a magnificent drag-flick, while Aristide Coisne made the most of a Timothee Clement pass. Argentina narrowed the margin through Lucas Martinez’s goal, but France restored its lead through Gaspard Baumgarten at the stroke of half-time.

Peillat scored off short corners on either side of the third break before Francois Goyet made it 5-3 as the Olympic gold medallist paid the price of missing plenty of chances.

The results (Pool A)
  • Spain 2 (Albert Beltran 9, Alvaro Iglesias 27) drew with New Zealand 2 (Hayden Phillips 50, Kane Russell 56);
  • France 5 (Genestet 18, Charlet 23, Coisne 26, Baumgarten 30, Goyet 54) bt Argentina 3 (Martinez 28, Peillat 44 and 48).