*Mandeep in action
New Delhi, June 10: A three-goal blitz in second half enabled India overpower Argentina 3-0 to stay put in the reckoning of the FIH Hockey Pro League in Eindhoven (the Netherlands).
Putting behind their defeat against the Netherlands, India came up with a clinical display to out play the South Americans to reclaim the top spot in points table .The win takes the Men in Blue to lead the League table with 27 points from 14 matches. Great Britain is second with 26 points but has two games in hand. Argentina, meanwhile, remained fifth with 13 points from 13 matches.
This was India's 18th win over Argentina in 32 matches played between the two nations.
Captain Harmanpreet Singh (33’) and Amit Rohidas (39’) scored a goal each in the third quarter while Abhishek (59’) scored about a minute before the final hooter. Harmanpreet ,who is a top scorer in the league this season has now 18-goals to his credit
At the start of the first quarter, Argentina looked more aggressive on and off the ball. They forced World no 5 India to make errors while defending in the circle resulting in a penalty corner as early as in the 3rd minute but couldn't make much of the chance.
India picking up the ball possession broke into a quick-fire counterattack with forward Abhishek taking a powerful shot but the ball hit the post. Argentina continued to look dangerous in their attack but India's defence held strong with experience goalie PR Sreejesh making a couple of splendid saves.
With neither team managing a goal in the first quarter, the second quarter began with India making a positive start turning up the pressure. Young strikers Karthi Selvam, Abhishek and Sukhjeet Singh took turns to create field goal opportunities but to no avail, while Argentina kept Krishan Pathak busy in the post. They made some strong forays into the circle but Pathak continued to make some sharp saves.
India, playing their second match in less than 24 hours, made 10 circle penetrations in the half but failed to convert.
India was more aggressive in the second half and attacked the Argentine defence from both the flanks .They finally took the lead when Harmanpreet with his searing drag-flick off a penalty corner sent the ball into the cage (1-0) Six minutes later, Amit Rohidas converted another penalty corner to make it 2-0. With about three minutes left in this quarter, Mandeep Singh took a direct shot on goal but goal keeper Santiago made a fine save denying the Indian his 100th international goal.
Argentina pressed forward in the final quarter but the Indian defence stayed solid and made crucial interceptions. India was down to 10 men in the final two minutes of the play. The South Americans tried to take advantage of the situation with a furious attack .India put their brilliance in a counterattack on displayed after Argentina lost possession ,and managed a third goal . It was Vivek Sagar Prasad making a clear run at goal, with the Argentina goalie rushing towards him, he made a superb pass to Abhishek who slotted the ball inside an unguarded net, sealing a 3-0 win for his side.
India will now face the Netherlands in their penultimate match of the League on Saturday. They lost to the hosts 4-1 in their last match on Wednesday.
The Men in Blue will play Argentina in their final match of the League season at the same venue on Sunday.