The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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India slump to third loss
- Argentina’s 4-2 victory scotches Pillay and Co. hopes

Amstelveen: India slid from bad to worse as they crashed to a 2-4 loss to Argentina and will now be left to fight for minor positions in the 25th Champions Trophy here Wednesday.

Argentina, playing only their second Champions Trophy event after their debut in 1987, capitalised fully on a tottering Indian defence to score their second win in three matches.

India suffered their third defeat in four games with only a win against an inexperienced Germany to show for their efforts, and are left with one match in hand, against Pakistan on Friday.

Goals by Jorge Lombi (19th, 40th), Matias Vila (24th) and Mario Almada (38th) set up the Argentine win, while the Indian reply came from Deepak Thakur (30th) and Baljit Singh Dhillon (42nd).

It was not as if the Indians played badly, rather, they allowed Argentina to score despite having more opportunities themselves.

India had more of the ball possession in the first-half. But two lapses in the midfield saw them fall behind. In the first instance, Argentina was allowed to develop a left-wing move that led to a penalty corner which Lombi converted.

Five minutes later, Vila, left free at the top of the circle received a pass from Juan Eduardo Garreta and scored to give Argentina a 2-0 advantage.

The Indians did well to keep their nerves and following a nice rotation of the ball from wing to wing, centre-half Bimal Lakra let fly a long ball straight to Thakur who deflected in. The teams went into the break with Argentina leading 2-1.

The Indians had couple of more scoring chances midway through the session, but the finishing let them down.

Soon after the breather, Argentina utilised the open spaces and came up with a counter-attack down the middle. Tomas Maccormik began the run and gave the ball to Matias Paredes who set it up for Almada. The Indians had no respite as lombi forced a penalty corner and went on to convert it as argentina took a firm grip on the match.

However, the Indians were not quite finished yet as Dhillon pounced on a rebound after Dhanraj Pillay’s attempt came off the goalkeeper, and found the boards with an angular hit.

Though India forced a couple of penalty corners in the dying minutes, they failed to convert any of them.

Earlier, a high-flying Australia destroyed Germany 6-1 with an awesome display of speed and power in a league match of the 25th Champions Trophy hockey tournament here on Wednesday.

Thriving on lightning counter-attacks and set-piece play, the Australians left their opposition clueless scoring goals at will. Two goals each by Michael McCann and Grant Schubert set the stage for the big Australian win while both Adam Commens and Aaron Hopkins sounded the board once to complete the German rout.

Late in the game, Alexander Sahmel put the world champions on the board with a penalty corner conversion.

The Aussies, who barely escaped elimination from the tournament last year when they finished a poor fifth, thus moved to the top of the table to join the Netherlands on seven points from two wins, a draw and a defeat to the home team.

The young German team, comprising mostly of junior players, languish at the bottom of the table without a point, having lost all their three games.

Much of Australia’s supremacy was evident in the first-half. McCann completed a grand move initiated by Zain Wright who put through Schubert for a run down the right.

Schubert flicked to McCann positioned near the goal to score in the ninth minute.

The Aussies then stepped up the pace in a bid to drive home the advantage and scored thrice in a six-minute spell.

Commens found the net with a spectacular wrong-foot flick from a Matthew Wells pass, Schubert closed a swift counter-attack that caught the entire German defence upfield, as he tapped home a Troy Elder pass.

The Germans barely recovered from the onslaught when McCann capped a left-wing move to put the Aussies ahead 4-0.

The Germans considerably tightened up in the second-half by packing their defence to frustrate the Aussies for a while, but the floodgates opened yet again.

On Tuesday Holland drew 2-2 with Pakistan in the men’s Champions Trophy here on Tuesday (as briefly reported in Wednesday’s Late City edition).

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