|July 30th, 2012|
|5||Pool A||7:00pm||GBR - ARG||4 - 1 (1 - 0)||Final||x 2|
Great Britain made their opening statement of intent as they battered their way to an opening group win, running riot in the second half to beat Argentina in a bruising affair, pock-marked with sin-binnings. Ashley Jackson’s sleight of hand played its part in killing off of the tie, creating goals for Barry Middleton and a first international strike for Dan Fox before Richard Smith’s drag-flick found its way in.
It added to Middleton’s first half punch-shot, putting GB 4-0 up before Pedro Ibarra got a late consolation from a corner, earned by Lucas Vila’s review. A slew of early, niggly fouls set the tone for a muscular game, both sides hyped up for the battle. Matt Daly thought he had given his side an early lead, fishing the ball out of Juan Manuel Vivaldi’s pads and netting in the fifth minute but a review denied a goal, the ball brushing his body in the act.
Physical tackles were very much in vogue and Ignacio Bergner was the first to go for a break. During his two-minute absence, Barry Middleton pounced, rebounding superbly off Vivaldi after Richard Smith’s initial drag-flick was palmed into his path. Vivaldi denied Jackson in the next phase while Argentina’s best chance fell to Facundo Callioni but a combination of James Fair and Iain Lewers forced him wide.
The same man was denied just after the break, ramping Agustin Mazilli’s powerful pass into Fair’s midriff. But Great Britain were always the more powerful force, probing the baselines and they hit the front when Jackson’s slip of the wrists opened up Middleton’s route for his second, albeit through Vivaldi’s legs. Again, Jackson’s quick thinking played in Fox for a truly brilliant team goal, a pitch length breakaway which the GB man gleefully pummelled home. Smith’s low drag made it three goals in 12 minutes and an unassailable lead, only sullied by Ibarra's low corner.
Dan FOX (GBR), on scoring his first international goal:"Absolutely brilliant, no better time to score I guess."
On the team performance: "Good. We knew that the first game of the tournament was one where you need to get into the swing of things, but actually we were pretty pleased with that.
"We had a lot of shots on target and quite a few balls flashing across goal, so if you put those away in international hockey you win by three or four goals every game, so that's where we need to improve in the next match (against South Africa on 1 August)."
Pedro IBARRA (ARG), on scoring Argentina's only goal: "I really don't care (about the goal). If we lose, it (the goal) really doesn't matter."
On playing the hosts: "They had really strong support, they were the locals, we're not used to playing like this and we were very nervous. We got into our game very late, after three goals. They (GBR) are physically strong so it was not a surprise that it was a rough game."