Hockey World Cup 2018: Argentina closes in on QF berth

Argentina beat New Zealand 3-0 in the second match of the evening after France held Spain to a 1-1 draw in Pool A match of the Hockey World Cup 2018 at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.

Argentina players greets their team-mate Vila Lucas (second from left) after he scored his team's second goal against New Zealand.   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

Olympic champion Argentina blunted New Zealand’s challenge to snatch a 3-0 victory in a Pool A match of the Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here on Monday.

Argentina’s second consecutive win, scripted by goal-scorers Agustin Mazzilli, Lucas Vila and Lucas Martinez, has virtually taken it to the quarterfinals.

Even as Black Sticks gave a good fight, the second-ranked Argentina – earned a short corner in the fifth minute – had the edge in the first quarter.

Read Argentina's triumph as it happened

World number nine New Zealand stepped up aggression in the second period and had a couple of chances, including a penalty corner. The Argentine defence was alert enough to parry the attacks.

Argentina needed some innovation to breach New Zealand’s defence. Gonzalo Peillat sent in a long diagonal cross from the left and Mazzilli hit home in the 23rd minute to draw first blood.

Black Sticks looked for the ball and made some forays before Les Leones struck again because of its persistence. Vila pounced on a defensive lapse by New Zealand captain Blair Tarrant and extended the lead in the 41st minute.

Argentina made it 3-0 through Martinez’s penalty corner conversion.

Earlier, eighth-placed Spain was held by France, ranked 20 and lowest in the event, 1-1 in a close contest. France, returning to the World Cup after 28 years, maintained a tight leash on the three-time medallist and counter-attacked to create chances.

Read: France vs Spain - As it happened

France went ahead through a lovely field goal as captain Victor Charlet’s reverse hit was slotted into the goal by Timothee Clement in the sixth minute.

Spain failed to capitalise on the opportunities, including seven penalty-corners.

Alvaro Iglesias tapped in the equaliser and France’s Hugo Genestet failed to score from a penalty stroke in the action-packed final quarter.

The results

Pool A: France 1 (Clement 6') drew with Spain 1 (Iglesias 48'); Argentina 3 (Mazzilli 23', Vila 41', Martinez 55') bt New Zealand 0.

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