India beat Argentina to win bronze in Champions Challenge hockey

December 14th, 2009 - 3:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Salta (Argentina), Dec 14 (IANS) India fought back to edge past Argentina 3-2 and finished with a bronze medal in the Champions Challenge hockey tournament.
The hosts were leading 2-0 with dual strikes from Facundo Callioni (22 min, 29 min) before India struck through Vokkaliga Raghunath (35 min), Gurbaj Singh (54 min) and Dhananjay Mahadik (69 min) here Sunday.

New Zealand defeated Pakistan 4-2 in the final and also qualified for the elite Champions Trophy in Monchengladbach, Germany, next year.

The bronze medal game started with both teams taking a measure of each other. Argentina, however, had most of the ball possession and were rewarded by a series of penalty corner in the 20th minute, well defended by Sreejesh Parattu in the Indian goal.

Callioni opened the scoring with a shot from a difficult angle, with the crowd getting behind their team.

India tried to shift play into the Argentinean half, however Callioni sounded the board again a few minutes later with a spectacular diving deflection. The end of the period saw an intense Indian domination but they could not get close enough to create chances.

In the final second of the first half, India scored through Raghunath’s penalty corner strike.

India maintained the pressure at the start of the second half but could not shake the steady Argentinean defence of Ibarra, Fernando Zylberberg and Ignacio Bergner well backed by Juan Tomas Espinosa.

Then Argentina pushed forward again but failed to increase the lead as a spectacular reverse shot by Tomas Argento had the crowd on their feet.

Nevertheless, India managed to tie the score through Gurbaj minutes after some excellent work along the backline by Tushar Khandeker.

The Indians stepped up the attack for long sequence of skillful plays. Shivendra Singh had a good chance after collecting a long pass behind the defence, but it was finally on a penalty corner by Dhananjay Mahadik that they found the winner.

India, ranked sixth in the tournament, finished third.

South Africa thrashed China 5-0 to finish fifth while Belgium beat Canada 2-0 for the seventh place.

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