Six Nations Hockey | India snatch two late goals to draw against Argentina

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After trailing by 2 goals at the start of the final quarter, India fought back with 2 late goals from Ramandeep Singh and Devinder Walmiki to secure a thrilling 3-3 draw against Argentina at the Six Nations Tournament on Saturday. India's other goal came from Rupinder Pal Singh in the 2nd quarter.

Aloss against New Zealand in the last match had finished India’s hopes of finishing at the top of the standings, and the fourth-placed team took on second-placed Argentina in the fourth match of the tournament. After suffering two defeats in three games, coach Roelant Oltmans started with first-choice goalkeeper PR Sreejesh in the goal, leaving out Vikas Dahiya, who made the mistake that led to the goal against the Kiwis.

A repeat of the match against New Zealand

Similar to the match against the Black Sticks, India started the match against Argentina in an impressive fashion with them controlling the majority of the ball.= Sardar Singh and company kept attacking the Argentine goal, and the pressure paved way for a chance for Akashdeep Singh in the sixth minute of the match. However, the striker’s failure to trap the ball inside the shooting circle ended the chance.

But, the quarter ended with Argentina in the lead after a goal from Matias Paredes in the last minute of the quarter. India's failure to clear a long corner helped Juan Gilardi power a shot into the shooting circle. Lucas Rey created a confusion for Sreejesh inside the circle, and the goalkeeper’s failure to clear the ball saw the ball falling into Paredes' path, and he expertly put it into the back of the net for the opening goal.

India strike back, but Argentina reign supreme

The Men in Blue found their equalizer just after the restart through a penalty stroke from Rupinder Pal Singh. The defender deflected Sardar Singh’s pass from the half-way mark into the path of Ramandeep Singh, but a rash challenge from Gonzalo Peillat stopped him from getting to the ball. The umpire then awarded a penalty stroke to India. Having played a part in the build-up, Rupinder Pal stepped up and flicked it to the right of Argentina goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi to level things in the match. But, the happiness from the goal was short-lived.

Argentina threatened the Indian goal many times before they finally found the back of the net - Gonzalo Peillat – in the 21st minute. Peillat gave back Argentina the lead off a penalty corner by flicking the ball past a diving Sreejesh. Two green cards in quick succession to SK Uthappa and Rupinder Pal Singh added to India’s misery and Argentina cashed in on the opportunity to double the lead before the break. A quick counter attack from Argentina saw the Indian defence caught napping and Ignacio Ortiz pushed a ball into the shooting circle expecting Lucas Vila to collect it. The forward no mistake and flicked the ball past Sreejesh to put his team 3-1 ahead.

India fightback to finish strong

The Men in Blue needed a big performance to come back into the match, but they started on a bad note, losing Nikkin Thimmaiah for five minutes after the youngster received a yellow card. With just ten men, India failed to create a good opening in the quarter. But, they bounced back with a goal in the opening minutes of the final quarter to set up a thrilling last 13 minutes. Nikkin Thimmaiah came back and played a big part in the goal and ran with the ball into the shooting circle to pass it to Danish Mujtaba, who passed the ball to Ramandeep Singh. The strike made no mistake from close range and flicked it past the Argentina goalie to make the score 2-3. Although India lost Rupinder Pal Singh after he received a yellow card, the Men in Blue continued their attacking play and snatched the equaliser three minutes from the end through Devinder Walmiki. An attack from the right found Walmiki inside the shooting circle, and the midfielder flicked the ball high into the far corner from the goal to put India level at 3-3. India were not finished and pushed forward for the winner in the remaining minutes, but their fightback came a bit too late.

With four points from four matches, India are now fourth in table, ahead of New Zealand. India will now meet hosts Spain in the last match of the tournament on Sunday.  

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