The final day of pool matches at Rio razzmatazz turned out to be as exciting as it was in the opening day. Every expected team, barring Great Britain, made it to the quarters. The fate of New Zealand and Great Britain in pool of Ireland and Argentina hung in balance after each team played out their four matches quota. The London bronze medallist Great Britain needed a win over Spain to escape relegation, but it did not happen. Ward Sam cancelled out 8th minute strike of David Alegre to level in the 15th minutes, but later Great Britain could not break the Spanish wall.
Great Britain dominated the show, with eight clear strikes at goal, and earning four penalty corners to add to their arsenal. Spain blunted everything. The draw gave a new lease of life to New Zealand. Facing undisputed leaders of Rio, Belgium, Simon Child, Nick Wison and Hugo Inglia gave 3-0 lead before conceding a late consolation goal. For the team languishing at the fifth position, New Zealand need to encash the fortune that smiles on them.
Another team from British Isles, Ireland was not positioned the same way as that of New Zealand. But it could not do an encore to comfort them to the quarters’ slot. Ireland, prided itself as the potential upset team, needed an outright win over struggling but pugnacious Argentina.
The Pan American Champions had other idea. India presented them early in the day a god send opportunity: a possible third place in the Pool. Had India defeated Canada as was widely believed, even with a win Argentina would have found only at fourth slot in its pool.
Carlos Retui’s Argentina grabbed the chances with both hands. It was a match of do or die. The loser will miss out the knock-out with bonus waiting for Argentina. Till 50th minute, Ireland was in lead (2-1) which it obtained 23 minutes before. Shane O’Donoghue injected fresh life into Irish challenge. But alas it lasted barely 46 seconds. Gonzalo Peillat, who struck earlier too, came out with a peach of a thunder to silence the Irish once for all.
Thus, Argentina third in Pool B.
In the same pool, Germany and Holland decided who is better than the other. Reigning champions retained top slot with a laborious 2-1 victory.
Spain in the other pool is a surprise pack. It lost only to formidable Belgium and then the vital draw that forced out ambitious British from the knock out.
Facing Brazil Australia did the rest in the last of Rio pool matches, and found them third in the pool ahead of New Zealand and below Spain.
QUARTER FINAL LINE UP
Argentina Vs Spain
Belgium Vs India
Australia Vs Netherlands
New Zealand Vs Germany
|… courtesy stick2hockey|