Pakistan drub Argentina 4-2 | Pakistan Today

Pakistan drub Argentina 4-2

Veteran penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas celebrated his captaincy debut with a rasping drag-flick into the net as Pakistan defeated Argentina 4-2 in the opening match of the 21st Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament on Thursday. Three-time champions Pakistan, who lost last year’s final to Australia through a golden goal, squandered a two-goal lead to allow the tough-tackling Argentina draw 2-2 level, but then scored twice in the last five minutes to assert their supremacy. Pakistan opened the scoring in the 34th minute, when they just had nine players on the field.
After a fine solo run Shafaqat Rasool sent a diagonal ball that was picked up on top of the circle by Muhammad Irfan, who beat Argentine goalkeeper Juan Manuel Vivaldi with a firm hit. Skipper Abbas made it 2-0 in the 50th minute with a firm shot that beat Vivaldi and went high into the net. Down 0-2, the Argentines came back strongly and exploited the gaps in Pakistan’s own defence.
Gonzalo Peillat reduced the deficit with a penalty corner conversion in the 53rd minute when their star striker Pedro Ibarra was off the field due to a yellow-card suspension. Argentina were back on level terms at 2-2 in the 62nd minute as Mathias Parades moved behind Pakistani defenders to capitalise on a through ball from Mathias Villa, slotting it into the boards. However, Pakistan, missing several seasoned players who are facing disciplinary action for playing in the World Hockey Series in India, scored two field goals to clinch full points from the first outing here. Haseem Khan put Pakistan in the lead again by deflecting in a shot from Irfan in the 65th minute and Muhammad Waqas rounded off the scoring with a brilliant goal in the penultimate minute from a rasping cross by Shabbir Ahmed. While Argentina will face New Zealand in their next match on Friday, Pakistan will play the Black Sticks on Sunday. A lacklustre India began their campaign in the 21st Azlan Shah Cup hockey with an embarrassing 1-5 defeat at the hands of a speedy New Zealand in Ipoh on Thursday.
Starting with an opportunistic strike past a rusty Indian defence in the opening minute, New Zealand ripped through the Indian backline as five different players registered their names on the scoresheet to repeat their runaway victory last year. New Zealand, who are drawn in the same group as India in the London Olympic Games, had outplayed India 7-3 in the 2011 Azlan Shah Cup, when India finished sixth in a field of seven nations despite starting as double defending champions. Simon Child (1st minute), Andy Hayward (34th), Nick Wilson (32nd), Stephen Jenness (61st) and Matt L’huillier (65th) scored for New Zealand, who only the previous night had one of their players, Blair Hilton, ruled out of the tournament after undergoing an emergency operation for appendicitis. India’s lone goal came through Shivendra Singh in the sixth minute, which kept the scores level at 1-1 until the 34th minute. New Zealand stunned the Indian defence in the opening minute of play when defender Sandeep Singh faltered in stopping a long shot inside the circle. Child made India pay for the lapse by picking up the ball and slamming it into the boards despite two defenders and the goalkeeper being in the circle.
India drew parity five minutes later when Shivendra received a long through pass from Birender Lakra and beat a defender before slotting it past New Zealand custodian Kyle Pontifex. The Indian defence wilted under New Zealand’s persistent attack midway in the first session, but just managed to hang on as goalkeeper P R Sreejesh warded off a series of shots in three successive penalty corners in the 16th minute. Sreejesh was again in the picture three minutes later when he blocked a penalty corner shot from Hayward and also a rebound attempt from Nick Wilson before the ball was cleared. India’s off-colour strikers failed to make an impression on the Black Sticks. In the 23rd minute when Shivendra send a diagonal pass to Yuvraj Singh who failed to control the ball and sent a high shot wide of the mark. New Zealand scored their second goal from their fifth penalty corner in the 34th minute when Hayward’s low shot beat Sreejesh to give them a 2-1 lead at half-time. India forced two penalty corners in the space of four minutes, but V RÂ Raghunath’s shots failed to trouble the New Zealand defence. India’s ace penalty corner specialist Sandeep was not on the field during this period.

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