LONDON: Australia were surprisingly held by Argentina in the men’s hockey tournament at the Riverbank Arena in London.
In the first match of the day, Australia showed they are not invincible when they failed to hold on to a 2-0 lead over Argentina who had lost both matches in the tournament so far.
Australian striker Jamie Dwyer broke his country’s all-time scoring record with his 2-0, a simple tap-in just before the break but his side paid for missing 22 shots on goal.
Argentina scored just two minutes after the interval, with a shot by their skipper Matias Vila deflected off Australian defender Fergus Kavanagh’s stick.
Although Australia, who had won both previous matches without conceding a goal and scoring 11 times, were the pressing team throughout, they could not get past impressive Argentine keeper Juan Manuel Vivaldi again in the second half.
Argentina rallied in the last 10 minutes, and with just two minutes to go Gonzalo Peillat’s penalty corner drag flick earned Argentina a draw and their first point in the tournament.
“We weren’t clinical enough inside the attacking circle and, defensively, one-on-one we were a little bit sloppy,” said Australian goal scorer Dwyer. “We are not anywhere near where we want to be after this game. We have taken a step back.”
Australia still lead Group A, but after Friday’s draw that put them on seven points, they are ahead of Britain only by goal difference. The two will play on Sunday, when they will likely settle among themselves Group A’s first and second ranks needed to earn a berth in the semi-finals.
In Pool B, the two teams expected to make it through to the semi-finals, the Netherlands and Germany, gave their opponents a thrashing on Friday.
The Dutch trailed New Zealand after just five minutes when Nicholas Wilson played the ball across from left wing for Simon Child to put away.
But from then on, the Dutch dazzled with their quick-break hockey, scoring three goals by half time despite having a goal disallowed in a video referral two minutes after the Kiwi goal.
Penalty strokes – taken from seven metres’ distance – by Roderick Weusthof and corner specialist Mink van der Weerden put the Dutch ahead, and Billy Bakker finished off a quick counter-attack finished off with six minutes to go before the break.
Another goal by Bakker and Robbert Kemperman slamming the ball into the far-right corner of the goal in the 67th minute put a long distance between New Zealand and any realistic hope to qualify for the final four.
The Netherlands, who came into the tournament ranked second in the world now lead Group B on goal difference ahead of Germany, who blew away record Olympic Champions India.
After two matches characterised mostly by mental strength, Germany stepped up a gear to display some inspiring, fast moves across the pitch.
A hat-trick by Germany’s Florian Fuchs and one goal each by Oliver Korn and Christopher Wesley allowed German to cruise to their 5-2 victory, despite a short three minutes in the first half when the score was 1-1 following a penalty corner goal by India’s VR Rangunath.
Germany managed to split open India’s defence almost at will and will now focus their efforts on countering the Netherlands’ quick attacking game when they face each other on Sunday.