India beat Argentina to take 2-0 lead in hockey

January 20th, 2009 - 6:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Mar del Plata (Argentina), Jan 20 (IANS) India overpowered Argentina to script a 3-2 victory in a bitterly contested second hockey match and took a 2-0 lead in the four-match Test series.India scored through Shivendra Singh (12th minute), Prabhjot Singh (40th) and Sandeep Singh (59th) while Mario Almada (13th) and Pedro Ibarra (46th) were the scorers for Argentina here Monday.

India began with a series of attacking moves from forwards Prabhjot, Deepak Thakur and Shivendra. Tushar Khandker added to the confusion in the Argentine half with superb runs on the left flank.

India had a chance to take the lead in the fourth minute but Argentine goalkeeper Juan Manuel Vivaldi saved Shivendra’s deflection after the Gwalior lad was put through by Prabhjot.

India’s central mid-fielders and linkmen Vikram Pillay, Rajpal and V.S. Vinaya set up the forwards with accurate passes.

India earned a free hit close to the circle in the 12th minute when Argentina medio Tomas Argento obstructed Thakur. Skipper Sandeep Singh executed a set piece for Shivendra to give India a 1-0 lead.

Argentina immediately struck back with quick forays from the flanks. The wily Almada, lurking dangerously around the Indian striking circle, was quick to wrong foot the Indian defence to score the equaliser in the 13th minute.

Thakur nearly put India ahead again shortly after as Rajpal Singh orchestrated the sortie setting up Khandker. The winger with Prabhjot in tandem swerved past full backs Lopez and Ibarra to find handyman Thakur, but the striker’s attempt was foiled by Vivaldi.

Argentina again picked up the pace, forcing two penalty corners in quick succession. While the first was not stopped, the second was flicked wide by Gilardi.

Another goal scoring opportunity was lost by India in the 30th minute after a turnover by combination of Thakur and Shivendra Singh, but the latter fumbled with only Vivaldi to beat.

Argentina was awarded another penalty corner shortly before half time with a deliberate stick check by Sandeep Singh. India was lucky to survive as Khandker brought off a goal line save.

India began aggressively after the break and took the lead in the 40th minute off a counter attack set by Shivendra. Exhibiting classy baseline control and skills Prabhjot and Tushar Khandker zeroed in before Prabhjot found the target to break the deadlock.

Buoyed by this success, India continued their offensive mode but paid the penalty in the 46th minute when Matias Rey stole the ball from Rajpal and sent a long overhead to unmarked Lucas Vila. The Indian defence was not alert and lack of co-ordination between custodian Baljit Singh and Sandeep Singh led to the Argentine equaliser through Pedro Ibarra.

The contest turned fast and furious as both teams played overtime and tried to wrest the initiative. It was eventually left to India as Sandeep scored the match winner off a penalty corner rebound in the 59th minute. The third Test match will be played here Wednesday.

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