|December 12th, 2009|
|15||Semi-final||2:00pm||ARG - NZL||2 - 3 (1 - 2)||Final|
Semi-final – Argentina v. New Zealand: 2-3 (half-time: 1-2)
Statistics between the two teams before this semi-final (compiled by B.G.Joshi, Bhopal, India):
Matches played: 29,- Argentina won 11, New Zealand won 12 - 6 draws
Goals for Argentina: 50 - Goals for New Zealand: 55
Biggest Wins for Argentina: 5-3 in 1982 World Cup in Mumbai
Biggest Wins for New Zealand: 5-1 in 1992 Test Series in Auckland
Last played: 2008 Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh: Argentina won 2-1
The first semi-final started under bright sun and in front of a large audience (and live TV coverage). But the local fans were promptly silenced when Andrew HAYWARD scored a penalty-corner in the second minute of play, setting the tone for the match. Once the shock of this early goal passed, Argentina was promptly back on the attack and besieged the Black Sticks goal but were kept at bay, including on their first penalty-corner.
After a series of near misses, their pressure paid off on their second penalty-corner. They didn’t bother with an option this time and Pedro IBARRA powered the ball out of reach of Kyle PONTIFEX in the New Zealand goal. Argentina kept pushing forward, threatening the goal, but the experienced New Zealand defense absorbed well the pressure. The Argentinean forwards were showing some nervousness in their last passes or shots, and the score did not evolve until the 32nd minute, when the ever reliable Phillip BURROWS concluded a counter-attack, giving the lead to the Black Sticks going into the break, albeit slightly against the run of play.
The second half started with the drums now in action to encourage the local team but the Black Sticks seemed to have found the key to lock the midfield and it took a while for the first serious Argentinean chance, a penalty-corner shot wide by Pedro IBARRA. New Zealand were more efficient at the other end and scored on their first incursion in Argentinean territory, this time by Shea MCALEESE. Down by two goals, the situation was looking bleak for Argentina, and they still could not find solutions to penetrate the compact New Zealand defense, even on another penalty-corner shot wide yet again by Pedro IBARRA.
In the last ten minutes, New Zealand pushed forward more and Simon CHILD ran twice the ball in the Argentinean circle, crossing for Phillip BURROWS, but he was shot down by Juan Tomas ESPINOSA in goal. Argentina finally narrowed the gap in the 66th minute by LucasVILA after a counter-attack that swept the whole field, setting the stage for a torrid end of match! Teams traded green cards, but the experienced New Zealanders controlled the ball in the final minute, earning their berth in the Final on Sunday.