The rematch of the Rio 2016 Olympic final did not disappoint fans and players alike, after the World Cup winners Belgium outplayed the hosts Argentina 4-2 in front of a packed house at the Estadio Municipal de Hockey in Cordoba on Match Day 3 of the inaugural edition of the FIH Pro League.
The meeting between the reigning Olympic champions Argentina and World champions Belgium saw the Belgians dominate the fixture between two sides known for playing attacking hockey.
The World No.1 Belgian Red Lions took just 2 minutes to open the scoring as Tom Boon smashed home a brilliant first-time strike on the turn to reward some high-quality build-up play from Florent Van Aubel.
Belgium’s defense was regularly called into action in the first period, with Loick Luypaert making numerous crucial blocks as the Rio 2016 Olympic Gold medalists searched for an equalizer. Lucas Martinez came close to restoring parity late in the quarter, but his shot went over the top of the goal post.
Argentina pulled themselves level midway through the second period with an amazing goal from Lucas Vila, whose vital touch on Juan Lopez’s scorching pass gave goalkeeper Vanasch absolutely no possibility of saving. In fact, a video referral was called for by the umpire to validate that the subtle touch had certainly been made in the striking circle.
Despite being a player down, Argentina had a terrific chance to take the lead when they won a penalty corner in the latter stages of the period. In the absence of prolific goal-scorer Gonzalo Peillat, Pedro Ibarra stepped up for flicking duties. However, an error at the top of the circle was brutally punished by the Belgians, who raced down the other end and took a 2-1 lead through Gauthier Boccard in the latter part of the 3rd quarter at the 44th minute. The Red Lions hit a third less than a minute later thanks to Player of the Match Victor Wegnez, before Tom Boon made it 4-1 early in the fourth quarter at the 51st minute with a cool deflection after a moment of brilliance from the exceptional Arthur Van Doren.
Argentina’s Martinez certainly kept things interesting with a goal on the counter-attack, but despite further efforts on goal from the hosts, the Belgian goal-line remained untroubled in the latter stages as Shane McLeod’s World Cup winners claimed a fine victory on Argentine soil.
About the Author
Suposh Sharma, keenly follows Hockey, Athletics, and other Olympic sports. He also has a penchant for writing humour and is an avid traveller