The Indian men’s hockey team’s good run continues as they have booked a quarterfinal berth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after they defeated Rio 2016 Gold medallists Argentina 3-1 on Thursday in Pool A.
Harmanpreet Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad and Varun Kumar scored in the second half for India as they assured themselves of a top two finish in the Pool.
Interestingly, the only other time the Indian men’s hockey team beat the defending Olympic champion in the Games was back in 1964 also at Tokyo. India had then beaten the 1960 Rome Olympics champion Pakistan 1-0 in the final. India was also the only team to defeat Argentina in their run to the title in 2016.
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India started off well, with plenty of energy and quite a few circle penetrations, keeping the Argentina side at bay in the first quarter. They could have taken the lead as well as Dilpreet Singh came agonisingly close.
The second quarter too wore a similar look as India dominated possession and the momentum but failed to score. PR Sreejesh as always stood tall in goal keeping Nahuel Salis' shot out to keep the scores level going into half time.
After that, India continued to push and pressurise the Argentine defence. A couple of misfired PC’s and a green card to Argentina’s Matias Alejandro helped India put more pressure on their opponents. In the final minutes of the third quarter, they finally broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute as Varun Kumar scored his first Olympic goal, converting a PC.
Argentina bounced back with an equaliser early in the fourth quarter as Maico Casella Schuth hammered it home past Sreejesh.
With the game entering the final phase, India edged ahead as Vivek Prasad was on hand to round off a rebound before Harmanpreet put the seal on the win with a third.
India stand currently second in their group after four matches with nine points, only behind world No. 2 Australia.
India will play their final group match against Japan next on Friday.
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