Friday, August 3, 2012

Mighty Australia held by Argentina

Australia vs. Argentina: 2-2 (half-time: 2-0)
Netherlands 5 New Zealand 1

Argentina came back from a two-goal deficit to tie Australia and earn their first point of the competition. Australia seemed to have the game well under control at half-time and will certainly regret the many wasted opportunities in second half that cost them a third win.
      Both teams started the early morning match slowly, then the Kookaburas suddenly picked up the pace to threaten Juan Manuel Vivaldi in the Argentinean goal. Argentina followed suit, earning a penalty-corner after a swift counter-attack, and an interesting option between Lucas Vila and Lucas Rey nearly did the trick.
      The scare was too much for Australia and they grabbed the lead in their next breath on a penalty-corner, Matthew Butturini picking up the rebound after a strong save on the line by Manuel Brunet behind his keeper. The Kookaburas started to control play in midfield, reducing the Argentinean progress to counter-attacks or long balls to their high forwards.
      Juan Manuel Vivaldi was called into action a few times on violent Australian shots and on a messy goal mouth scramble following a penalty-corner, but it is only with a few seconds left in the period that Jamie Dwyer added a second goal, his forth of the competition, after pouncing on a loose ball mishandled by an Argentinean defender.
    The two-goal lead at the interval reflected the overall domination of the top ranked team. However, the break was beneficial to Argentina and Matias Vila was at the conclusion of a counter-attack to score in the first minute of second period, reducing the gap to one goal and changing the dynamics of the match.
    Australia had multiple scoring opportunities in second half but their shots were wide, high or hit the post, and Juan Manuel Vivaldi took care of those on target. Argentina were far less wasteful and scored on their first penalty-corner of the period by Gonzalo Peillat to tie the score with a few minutes left on the clock.
    The end of game was heated, with green and yellow cards handed out and a video-referral refusal for Argentina that drew loud boos from the crowd, but the score stood at 2-2, giving  Argentina their first point of the tournament while the  Australians, who appeared to have the game well under control at half-time, will certainly regret their many wasted opportunities in second half.

(Yan Huckendubler)