11 players in white jerseys attacking while 11 men in blue kit behind the ball, that was the scene for last 5 minutes of the game as India tried their best to find the equalising goal but to no avail as World no.1 Argentina defeated India 1-0 in the semifinal of the World Hockey League Final in Bhubaneswar.
With rain welcoming both the teams at the start, it was tough for both the teams to start the game with pace and that probably affected the speed of Indian counter-attacks, they are famous for. Penalty Corner also came back to haunt them as Gonzalo Peillat converted the only Penalty Corner that the Olympic Champion got while India missed couple of the chances that they got.
India started the match brilliantly with the ball entering the Argentina’s circle even before a minute ticked on the clock. However the first real chance fell to Argentina when a brilliant cross in the circle was deflected just away from a diving striker to keep India in game. In the 5th minute Argentina lost their referral when the ball came of their stick while they claimed it to be dangerous ball by the India defender.
When the ball found it difficult to travel through ground due to the excessive water that had accumulated on the turf the ball was soon flying in sky, India starting the alternative method. After consecutive attacks from both the teams, it was Argentina that ended the drought. However, that proved to be the only goal of the game and the hosts once again failed to enter the final after showing so much promise.
Gonzalo Peillat converted the Penalty Corner in the 18th minute, with a beautifully taken flick in the top right corner of the goal as pace kept denying everything. 5 minutes later, India dealt another blow as Manpreet was shown a yellow card despite replays showing a clear tackle.
Once he came back after 10 minutes, in the second half, India started threatening more.
The last quarter saw India dominated the possession with around 90% ball in their control. However the watter-logged turf just didn’t cope with the pace of Indian attackers and India had to be content with another loss in the last 4 of the tournament, just like the last edition where they had lost to Belgium with the same scoreline.