HWL Final: Hosts India out of title race after 0-1 loss to Argentina
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 on Friday.
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 Saturday's 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 on sunday.
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 their usual tactic of holding the ball in their own half and look for speedy counter-attack. India were not proactive and din't press the way they should have to counter Argentina in their own half. They also employed long-range balls due to the heavy pitch. One 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. 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 inside the box with Vivaldi alone.
It required some creativity to break down Argentine defensive set-up. But as the match moved towards the later stage, they became more determined. Even though India removed their goalkeeper Suraj Karkera to have an extra field player but Argentina stood tall to seal passage to the final on Sunday. 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.