Bhubaneswar: World No.2 and Olympic Champions Argentina registered a convincing 3-0 victory over a lower-ranked (World No.9) New Zealand in a Pool A encounter of the Men’s Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here Monday.
Agustin Mazzilli (23rd), Lucas Vila (40th) and Lucas Martinez (55th) scored for the Olympic Champions. With this victory Argentina are virtually through to the quarterfinals of the mega event. Earlier they had scraped past Spain 4-3 in their campaign opener.
New Zealand got a fantastic start and Argentina players had to defend early. Argentina soon took charge and got their first penalty corner in the fourth minute. Gonzalo Peillat took the flick, but New Zealand defenders charged forward to nullify it. Argentina continued with their surge and Joaquin Menini hit a powerful reverse in the next minute, but custodian Richard Joyce was equal to the task.
Gradually the World No.9 side controlled the midfield. The Black Sticks were pegged back in defense. In the 13th minute New Zealand had a chance to start a quick encounter, but they couldn’t chase the ball in time. The first quarter ended goalless with Los Leones keeping maximum ball possession.
New Zealand tried to make amends in the second quarter and they got their first penalty corner in the 18th minute after swiftly moving down to the right. But Stephen Jenness couldn’t do much to a flick by Kane Russell. Argentina counterattacked, and Mazzilli struck in the 23rd minute to get the opener for the Olympic Champions. This was the third goal for Mazzilli in the World Cup.
After the goal Argentina slowed the match down to a snail’s pace in their own circle before quickly venturing ahead after the ball is played in deep. New Zealand stole a pass and got a good long angular ball into the Argentine circle, yet no damage was done. Argentina had the cushion of a solitary lead after the first half with a dominating display though New Zealand played a good catch up game.
After the change of ends The World No.9 team launched an early attack, but Peillat and skipper Pedro Ibarra came to the rescue of the World No.2 side. In the 32nd minute Argentina got a chance to double their lead, but Mazzilli couldn’t get a chance to touch off a pass from Paredas.
Argentina got another penalty corner in the 34th minute, but Joyce made a brilliant save of a Peillat’s flick. New Zealand retaliated back to earn their second penalty corner in the 37th minute, but Juan Vivaldi gloved away an aerial attack to be lucky for the third time on the day.
However, Argentina again turned the tides as Vila doubled the lead in the 40th minute with a lightning strike through the left flank of New Zealand’s citadel.
The Black Sticks were desperate to reduce the margin in the final quarter. In the process they earned a penalty corner in the 47th minute but made a mess of it.
Argentina got another penalty corner in the 55th minute. Lucas Martinez put it into the goal post in a tense goalmouth action to help their side get a 3-0 lead and an emphatic win.