After a heart-break 2-3 loss to hosts The Netherlands on Saturday, India ensured they ended the FIH Hockey Pro League 2022-23 campaign with a 2-1 win against Argentina here in Eindhoven on Sunday. With this victory, India hold on to the top spot in the points table. Early goals by Akashdeep Singh (2′) and Sukhjeet Singh (14′) helped India control the proceedings while Lucas Toscani (58′) scored Argentina’s lone goal.
Experienced striker Akashdeep Singh gave India a perfect start with a goal in less than two minutes into the game. Unmarked in the D, he waited for the ball. A good assist from the right flank was picked up well and deflected into the net with ease. Unfazed by India’s early 1-0 lead, Argentina setup a lethal counter attack in the 4th minute but India made a timely interception and held on to the ball possession. The next few minutes saw India build on their attack. They showed composure in their pursuit and a chance came by in the 14th minute when Akashdeep set up the goal with a good back pass to Vivek Sagar Prasad. Clearing the Argentine defence, Vivek made a clever assist to Sukhjeet, in front of the goal mouth, who simply had to beat Santiago Tomas to the post.
In the next quarter, Karthi Selvam, Akashdeep and Mandeep Singh took turns to create scoring opportunities but neither found success. In the meantime, Argentina took pushed for goals in this quarter but cautious defending by India helped keep a clean slate.
Starting the third quarter with a 2-0 lead, Argentina came back from the ten-minute break with an intent to bounce back. An infringement on India’s part while tackling in the circle didn’t held India’s cause, with Argentina being awarded their first PC of the match. Thankfully though, Nicholas Della Torre’s flick was stopped by India’s first rusher Amit Rohidas. Another PC awarded, and this time Jarmanpreet clears the ball ensuring his team kept the clean slate. Both teams traded shots on goal in the next few minutes but neither came close to converting them.
Happy to remain in a comfortable 2-0 lead, India stayed alert in the final quarter. They came up with a well-organised defence to keep the Argentine attackers from making easy forays into the circle. On the other hand, Hardik, leading the squad in the absence of Captain Harmanpreet Singh who is back in India following the birth of his daughter, tried to make some smart interception but couldn’t hold on to the possession. A few minutes later, Mandeep Singh, vying to score his 100th international goal, attempted to keep the ball in India’s half along with Jarmanpreet but Argentina did well to keep all the Indian attackers marked.
In the 58th minute, Argentina won a crucial PC but Nicholas Della Torre’s flick was beautifully saved by India goalie PR Sreejesh. However, the referee awarded Argentina another PC for potential danger play by India. Amit Rohidas was seen using his stick held high up and even though India appealed through the referral, the decision for PC was upheld. The lifeline was lapped up by Argentina, with Lucas Toscani beating Sreejesh to the goal this time. While the last two minutes remained tense, India did well to hold on to the 2-1 and eventually added three points to their kitty. India have ended their campaign this season with 30 points.
Source: Hockey India
Report- Pratyusha Mukherjee