England and Argentina played out a 1-1 draw in the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Men’s International Hockey Tournament today.
The result slowed down Olympics champions Argentina’s march to the top of the table standings as they have seven points – two behind leaders Australia while England (5 points) cantered to fourth place behind Malaysia (six points).
The Malaysians and English are in a better position to overtake Argentina for a place in Saturday’s final with Australia.
Olympics champions Argentina and World champions Australia play on Friday in the last preliminary round match that will decide Argentina’s final position in the tournament.
The Argentinians went into the match hoping to bounce back from the surprise 2-1 loss to host Malaysia on Wednesday – a result that briefly scuttled their chances of joining Australia uninterrupted at the top of the six-team table standings.
As for England, they have been creeping back slowly to stay among the front runners following a 4-1 win over Ireland and 1-1 draw with India. A win over the Olympics champions will be the perfect antidote for the English but did not happen.
The English, however, have been far more enterprising in the first half. They made 10 circle entries against four by Argentina but could not find the gaps to score. Liam Ansell had the best of opportunities to put away a goal in the 5th minute but squandered.
Argentina made great inroads in the second quarter and appealed for a penalty quarter in the 22nd minute following an infringement. However, this request was denied after a video referral review. The first half ended in a stalemate.
The Argentinians picked their second penalty corner in the 40th minute. It was awarded after Brenden Creed was penalised for obstructing Lucas Vila near the 23-yard line. In the ensuing penalty corner, Sam Ward was deemed to have stopped the ball with his feet that subsequently resulted in a penalty stroke and Juan Gilardi outfoxed goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi by placing the ball into the top net.
England earned their only penalty corner of the match in the 56th minute and David Condon restored parity from a goalmouth melee. Argentina forced two consecutive penalty corners with just 58 seconds remaining, but England’s defence stood strong.
The draw slowed down Argentina’s push to the top but opened the door for England’s chances of making a top-three finish. A lo, however will depend on the Argentinians match against Australia on Friday while England will need to win against Malaysia.
WHAT THEY SAID:
Bobby Crutchley (England Head Coach):
I thought we played well against Argentina with a combination of us not being very good in the penalty circle. Sometimes you just need a bit of luck. They have a good goalkeeper but overall, I am upset with the result but really pleased with the performance.
The first and fourth quarter we have better chances but just could not get the goals.
We have played Argentina before and we know we can dominate the game. You don’t have to give them many penalty corners, but they can defend really well too. They can stay in the game and that is why they are Olympics champions.
We are obviously relying on other results if we got a hope in making the final as we want to finish in the tournament as higher as possible and obviously Malaysia is playing well now.
We are looking forward to that game (against Malaysia) on Friday. We will be playing a little bit later and it will be cooler and with a full crowd we are excited by that.
Rolando Rivero (Argentina Head Coach):
It was a tough match of course. Playing England or any other team in the middle of the field will always be tough matches. We are concerned about how we have been playing in the last two matches.
The stoppers need to improve their game and Gonzalo Peillat is not very happy with it. But we are doing very well in defending the penalty corners.
It’s going to be a tough match against Australia on Friday and we are going to try and win this match for the three points.