FIH Pro League: Albertarrio strikes as Argentina beat China in Changzhou
Las Leonas have been successful in narrowing down the leadership gap against the top of the table the Netherlands in the FIH Pro League for women.
Playing against the host China in Changzhou, the South Americans recorded a solitary goal win to take its League percentage to 76.2 against the Netherlands 80.
Aa all important goal from Agustina Albertarrio gave Argentina a third successive victory away from home in the FIH Pro League, defeating hosts China 1-0 in front of a vociferous and enthusiastic crowd at the Wujin Hockey Stadium in Changzhou.
Albertarrio hit what proved to be the winning goal in the tenth minute of the contest, scoring from close range against a China team that dominated large periods of the game but failed to find a way past an Argentina defence that has now gone three matches without conceding.
The result sees the second-placed Leonas narrow the gap on leaders the Netherlands at the top of the FIH Pro League standings, with Argentina having claimed 76.2 percent of the available points compared to 80 percent by the Dutch. China’s fourth defeat sees them remain seventh in the league table ahead of their home match against New Zealand on Friday (22 March).
Both teams had good reason to feel confident about their chances ahead of this fixture. Argentina (FIH World Ranking: 4) arrived in Changzhou following back-to-back away victories over New Zealand and Australia, while China’s (WR:10) recent home win over Germany was another important milestone for a talented young team that appears to be developing at a rapid rate.
With Las Leonas missing two of their greatest attacking assets in 2017 FIH Player of the Year Delfina Merino and inspirational veteran Carla Rebecchi, China’s hopes of getting a result against the in-form South American giants increased significantly. The home side made a bright start to the contest and almost opening the scoring through Peng Yang, who found space in the attacking circle but failed to test Argentina goalkeeper Belen Succi.
With far from impressed Leonas Head Coach Carlos Retegui barking orders from the side lines, Argentina soon found their feet in the contest and opened the scoring in the 10th minute when an unmarked Agustina Albertarrio received the ball directly in front of goal before seeing her raised effort clip the pads of China goalkeeper Ye Jiao before bouncing over the goal-line.
China searched hard for an equaliser in the second and third quarters but found Argentina’s defence in defiant mood. Xi Xiayun saw her goal-bound efforts blocked by both Succi and Player of the Match Lucina von der Heyde in the second quarter before Argentina’s Julieta Jankunas scored against the run of play in the third quarter only for it to be ruled out by a video umpire referral.
China threw everything they had at their opponents in the final period, but for all their industry they could not find that all important finishing touch in front of goal as Argentina claimed a third successive win on the road. Remarkably, it is now 206 minutes since Argentina last conceded in the FIH Pro League, having claimed three successive clean-sheet wins since a 34th minute strike from Dutch ace Pien Sanders saw Las Leonas lose 2-1 against the Netherlands on in Buenos Aires on 24 February.
Argentina’s Player of the Match Lucina von der Heyde said: “The match was very hard for us but we are so happy to win and to get the three points.”
Result: Women’s Match 24
China 0, Argentina 1
Player of the Match: Lucina von der Heyde (ARG)
– PTC NEWS