In an absolute thriller, 2016 Rio Olympics gold-medallist Argentina defeated Spain 4-3 in their opening Pool A match of the ongoing 14th edition of the Men's Hockey World Cup here at the Kalinga Stadium on Thursday.
The first goal of the match came in the very third minute of the first quarter and it was Spanish player Enrique Gonzalez who hit the bull's eye. The encounter gets spiced up when Argentina responded with a goal in the very next minute. Midfielder Agustin Mazzilli made a beautiful deflection off his stick towards the far post giving no chance for Spain's goalkeeper Quico Cortes to obstruct the ball.
With 1-1 on the board, the contest intensifies between the two solid-looking teams. Spain's Gonzalez earned a penalty corner for his side in the 13th minute which was perfectly executed by Josep Romeu to give his side a 2-1 lead over Argentina.
In an encore, Argentina again equalized the score in the very next minute. Agustin Mazzilli was at the helm of the stick this time as well. The scoreline read 2-2.
In what was turning out to be a breathtaking clash, Argentina continued to impress with their speed and accuracy. At the end of the first quarter, they won a penalty corner. Their star drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat, who has smashed an astonishing 131 international goals in the past four years, did not disappoint his team and shot through the legs of a Spanish runner and the goalkeeper to give Argentina lead.
After the thunderous first quarter, which was filled with a lot of action, the second part of the first half was comparatively calm. But the same did not last long. In the initial minutes of the third quarter, Spain scored an equalizer. After a dull second quarter, the match springs into life with the goal of Vincenc Ruiz who smashed into the roof of the net after Argentina's goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi made a couple of good saves in the match.
At the end of the third quarter, Argentina won a penalty corner but the Spanish goalkeeper Quico Corte was quick enough to make a successful save.
At a time when the match was heading towards a draw, Spain won their third penalty corner of the match in the fourth quarter but Juan Vivaldi tipped his stick to nullify a drag flick, directed at the right top corner, by Josep Romeu.
Then came the defining moment of the match. Coming to the rescue of Argentina, Peillat shot through two defenders to execute a brilliant goal. In the final minutes of the match, Spanish player Gonzalez missed a scoring opportunity. The youngster looked extremely disappointed after a failed trapping by Argentina on the edge of the circle. After full time, the scoreline read 4-3 in the favour of Argentina.
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