|August 1st, 2012|
|11||Pool A||7:00pm||PAK - ARG||2 - 0 (1 - 0)||Final||x 18|
The raw power of Muhammad Imran and Sohail Abbas’ drag-flicks saw Pakistan pick up their first win of the Olympics, condemning Argentina to a second successive defeat. They fired home a corner in each half to see off the South American side who took their time to find any sort of rhythm and now prop up the group after two rounds of games.
With both teams setting up half-court, it meant that, despite a decent tempo, there was little goalmouth action to go around. Rehan Butt’s halfway line steal led to the first shot in anger in the 21st minute, drifting a bit too far left to leave a tough angle to truly test Juan Manuel Vivaldi. The lead was forged when Muhammad Waqas raced clear and was tripped with the circle nearing and – with Sohail Abbas on the sideline – Muhammad Imran dragged home despite Manuel Brunet’s desperate efforts.
The second half proved more open as Lucas Vila finally got in a first shot in anger in the 42nd minute, a rising drive from on his knees. But the margin was doubled when Pedro Ibarra petulantly cleared over his own endline. Sohail Abbas’ first effort from the resulting corner was brilliantly saved by Gonzalo Peillat but went dangerous offering the world’s greatest marksman another chance. He duly obliged with his 346th international goal.
From there, Argentina raised the tempo but the best they could do was to rattle the crossbar when Agustin Mazilli latched onto a corner rebound, pumping the ball into the ground so powerfully it rose up and hit the metalwork. Lucas Vila deflected Matias Paredes pass inches wide while another trio of corners went unconverted to see Pakistan home without too much fuss.
They now face a potentially huge game against hosts Great Britain, both sides currently tied on four points after two games while Argentina face Australia needing a win to keep alive their semi-final hopes.
Rehan BUTT (PAK), on his side's performance: "We just needed three points. It doesn't matter if it's with a two goal difference or one goal. We are now together with Great Britain who we play next. I think for Pakistan and for Great Britain, we have the same feelings because there's a do or die match for the second place."
On playing defensively, particularly in the first half: "We are just focusing on our defence so that we do not concede early goals. Forcing the attack, it's not good for our team. We are just playing a normal game. We try to win short corners and maybe one or two tries. We are not focusing on every time attack, attack, attack we are just focusing on the plan."
Matias VILA (ARG), on the game: "The difference was in the corners. We had four or five and didn't score and they had three or four and did. We have to trust that if we continue to practice the corners sooner or later that it is going to go in. Now we have zero points from two games and we have three to go. It is very difficult to get into a position that we wanted, but we will keep on playing and enjoying the Olympics."