Odisha Hockey World League Final : India lose to Olympic champions: World number one and Olympic champions Argentina saved its date for the gold medal match on Sunday defeating the hosts India 1-0 in the first semi-final of the Odisha Hockey World League Final at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar today.
India would now play for the bronze medal match on Sunday.
It was a penalty corner goal that ended India’s run for the podium finish. Dependable Gonzalo Paliet scored from the first penalty corner earned by the South Americans in the 17th minute after India’s video referral against the award was turned down. India earned two penalty corners but neither Harmanpreet nor Rupinderpal could make use of any of them.
Though odds were in favour of the hosts as they were playing after a day’s rest and also before the home crowd, it was Argentina that dominated the proceedings. Only in the last 10 minutes, India went all out for the equaliser but nothing worked its way.
Even there, the home team was lucky as the Argentine captain Matias Paredes pushed out from in front of empty goalmouth a minute before the final whistle. India had resorted to the last gamble in the 56th minute by replacing goalkeeper with an extra offender. But it also did not work.
Argentina played a tough quarter-final against England yesterday. Instead, Indians looked more leg weary than their opponents. The hitting and passing of the home team was erratic and sluggish in the first three quarters. It appeared as if the team had run out of ideas of playing on a rain marred slow surface. Once master of aerial ball or scoop, Indians were unable to use this weapon also to force pace on a surface that was heavy and slow because of water logging.
Argentina, that ended its league matches without a win, clung on to the first half one goal lead to secure a place in Sunday’s final. Now the South Americans await winners of Australia-Germany game scheduled for tomorrow evening.