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Tokyo Olympics: Hopes rise as India beat defending champs Argentina to reach hockey quarterfinals | Tokyo Olympics News – Times of India

July 30, 2021

An integral part of strategies is making risky choices. For the second consecutive match, the Indian think-tank, led by chief coach Graham Reid, decided to use the alternate player card and the move paid off.
Up against defending champions Argentina, the match-up was always expected to be between defenders on either side.
India beefed up their defence with the added advantage of an extra drag-flicker by bringing in Varun Kumar for Birendra Lakra. Making his Olympic debut, Varun did not disappoint as he broke the deadlock before India carved out a 3-1 victory.
The win, their third in four appearances in Pool A, sealed their quarterfinal berth with a match to spare against hosts Japan on Friday.

India began the proceedings on an attacking note, controlling the ball on either flank, but success eluded them as the Argentine defence thwarted their attempts and were mindful of not conceding any penalty corners.
India had their chances to go ahead early in the contest, but the familiar woes of strikers failing to connect goalbound balls continued to plague Manpreet Singh’s men.
With Argentina slow off the blocks, India had their first chance in the fourth minute when Dilpreet Singh’s shot from a close range was cleared by goalkeeper Jaun Vivaldi. India wasted a few chances in the last five minutes of the first quarter.
With the Argentina backline leaving gaps, Amit Rohidas on one occasion failed to control the ball and just before the hooter, Simranjeet Singh bungled with his dribbling in front of the goal.

The same story panned out in the second quarter as well with India claiming most of the ball possession and shots at the goal (16). Argentina were content dictating the pace and ensuring a clean sheet.
The teams went into half-time with no goals or penalty corners.
Argentina let their guard down and India immediately claimed back-to-back penalty corners which were wasted by Rupinder Pal Singh. A minute later, with another penalty corner coming their way, India switched Rupinder with Varun and met with instant success.
Varun managed to sneak the ball past Vivaldi, who got a glove to it, but the ball whizzed past him. The goal woke up Argentina from their slumber and counterattacks followed.

Argentina neutralised the lead through Maico Casella in the 48th minute. India brought their A game to the pitch at the Oi stadium and attacked relentlessly. With two minutes to go for the final hooter, the seasoned Argentina defence with an average age of 30+ wilted under pressure and the heat.
In the 58th minute, Vivek Sagar put India ahead after he tapped in a rebound from Dilpreet and the ball kissed Vivaldi’s stick before finding the net.
Harmanpreet Singh then put the finishing touches to a clinical performance with his dragflick off India’s eighth penalty corner.

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