They left it to the final minute, but Argentina’s women edged out China 2-1 in their FIH Hockey Pro League clash in Eindhoven. In the showdown between two of hockey’s heavyweights, the Australian men produced a sensational performance to stun the home side 7-2.
(Women’s) Argentina vs China 2-1
China dominated the first half with more possession and more territory than their rivals but neither of the keepers was put under too much pressure with few circle penetrations for either side.
Argentina found another gear at the start of the third quarter, looking far better on the ball and more cohesive as a team.
They were rewarded for their efforts when Victoria Sauze fired in the ball from the 25, and the faintest of touches from Delfina Thome deviated it into goal for the 1-0 lead.
China played their way back into the game with a positive final few minutes of the third quarter but remained goalless by the final break.
They finally found the back of the net in the fourth period when Zhang Xiaoxue battled her way into the circle and took a shot that was saved by the keeper but then rebounded back to her to have another go. This time it went in for the hard-earned equaliser.
But with just one minute left in the match, Argentina were awarded a penalty corner. With China’s number one runner, Li Hong, off the pitch with a yellow card, Valentina Raposo drilled the ball into the bottom left corner to seal a 2-1 victory.
Maria Granatto was named player of the match and said: “I’m really happy for winning today. I think China is a really hard opponent but we worked really hard and we got to score off the last corner which was really important for us.”
(Men’s) Netherlands vs Australia 2-7
Australia struck first when Eddie Ockenden provided a great through-ball to Tom Craig who rocketed it in for his 38th international goal.
Some more great interplay then saw Daniel Beale slipping the ball back for Lachlan Sharp to fire it in and double the Kookaburras’ lead with just seconds left in the first quarter.
A quick free hit just outside the circle at the start of the second period led to a third goal. This time it was Nathan Ephraums who beat the keeper.
Craig then scored his second of the night less than a minute later after the ball had been worked into the circle and cleverly passed off by James Collins.
Australia’s fifth goal was their first from a penalty corner, Jeremy Hayward dragging it in to deepen the home side’s woe.
The Dutch finally got themselves on the scoresheet with just over a minute left in the half. After David Hussen turned the ball over, Miles Bukkens worked it towards goal, passing to Tjep Hoedemakers on the right who then crossed it back in. A diving Bukkens then found the back of the net to reduce the Dutch deficit to four.
It took less than five minutes for the Aussies to resume their goal-scoring blitz in the third quarter, Blake Govers firing in the rebound after an initial good save from Dutch keeper Pirmin Blaak off a penalty corner.
They scored their seventh in the fourth quarter when Beale dinked it back off the baseline for Ephraums to slot it in and complete his brace.
Bukkens pulled one back for the Dutch off a penalty corner to limit the damage but it did nothing to dampen an emphatic 7-2 victory for the Australians.
Tom Craig was named player of the match and said: “I think the biggest thing was we were really efficient in front of goal and we were efficient defending the goal so we’re pretty happy… I think the energy is really good. I mean it’s hard not to have good energy – we’re in European summer, the crowd is up, cheering for us, cheering for Holland, cheering for good hockey, so it was a good feeling out there and things were clicking well.”
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FIH Pro League – 9 June 202
HC Oranje-Rood Stadium, Eindhoven (NED)
Result: Women’s Match 45
Argentina 2-1 China
Player of the Game: Maria Granatto (ARG)
Umpires: Hannah Harrison (ENG), Céline Martin-Schmets (BEL), Ben Goentgen (GER-video)
Result: Men’s Match 45
Netherlands 2-7 Australia
Player of the Game: Tom Craig (AUS)
Umpires: Laurine Delforge (BEL), Sarah Wilson (SCO), Hannah Harrison (ENG-video)