Sports Argentina Hockey

India lost to Argentina in the semi-final of the Hockey World League Final Dec. 8, 2017. (Hockey India Twitter photo)

BHUBANESWAR — Olympic 2016 champions Argentina rode on a penalty corner strike by Gonzalo Peillat to defeat India 1-0 in the semi-finals of the Hockey World League Final here Dec. 8.

Peillat struck a fiery blow to the right corner of the post in the 17th minute to help Argentina enter the final for the first time in the tournament.

The South Americans will meet the winner of the Dec. 9 semi-final between World Cup holders and defending champions Australia and 2008 and 2012 Olympic champions Germany. 

The loser of the second semi-final will meet India, coached by Dutchman Sjoerd Marijne, in the bronze-medal playoff Dec. 10.

The match between India and Argentina didn't live up to expectations due to a wet pitch after heavy rains at the Kalinga Stadium.

Carlos Retegui-coached Argentina played with its usual tactic of holding the ball in its own half and looking for speedy counter-attacks. India was not proactive and did not press the way it should have to counter Argentina in its own half. It also employed long-range balls due to the heavy pitch.

In one such moment, Matias Parades found the foot of an Indian defender, resulting in a penalty corner from which Peillat scored.

Afterwards, India showed some urgency and Akashdeep Singh earned a penalty corner but Rupinder Pal Singh's strike was not good enough to beat Argentine custodian Juan Manuel Vivaldi.

A threat always loomed large as India kept sending many men to attack, with Argentina's counter-attack always a probability.

Meanwhile, Mandeep Singh failed to meet a cross from Akashdeep Singh inside the box with Vivaldi alone. 

It required some creativity to break down the Argentine defensive set-up. But as the match moved towards the later stage, India became more determined. Even though India removed goalkeeper Suraj Karkera to have an extra field player, Argentina stood tall to seal passage to the final Dec. 10.

Earlier in the day, the Netherlands beat England 1-0 in the classification match for the 7th/8th position. Mirco Pruijser marked his red-hot form with a field goal in the 42nd minute for his fifth goal of the campaign.

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