While pool A offered with no surprise on the last day of the round-robin, it was not until the last five minutes of the final game of pool B that Chile scored the goal that allowed them to edge Canada for first place in the pool, thus avoiding Argentina in the semi-final.
Argentina vs. USA: 8 - 0 (half-time: 4-0)
This game would decide the winner of pool A. It didn’t take long for Argentina to kill the suspense, Pedro IBARRA scoring in the 9th minute of play. USA put up a good fight and threatened on occasions Juan Manuel VIVALDI in the Argentinean goal, but Argentina controlled most of the play and established an insurmountable lead of four goals going into the break.
With the final result beyond doubt and both teams having no interest digging too much in their resources, the tempo declined in second period and Argentina scored four unanswered goals, for a final score of 8-0.
With win, Argentina finishes at the top of pool A ahead of the USA, and will now face either Canada or Chile, depending of the results of these teams later today.
Canada vs. Mexico: 7 - 3 (half-time: 3-1)
Before the last day of pool play, the situation was deadlocked at the top of group B: Canada and Chile both having 5 points, with a slightly better goal difference for Canada (+9 vs. +5). If both teams won today, the winner of the group would be decided by goal difference, so high scores could be anticipated in both matches!
Canada immediately grabbed control of play, but could not beat a very regrouped and composed Mexican defense, obviously prepared for this initial pressure. As is often the case, Canada left exposed their backfield and found themselves one goal down after Francisco AGUILAR scored a penalty-corner earned after a swift counter-attack.
Canada promptly earned back the lead by Scott TUPPER (on penalty-corner) and Rob SHORT (on penalty-stroke) but their midfield was not as dominant as against Chile and their forwards could not capitalize on a number of opportunities from open play and penalty-corner. Satisfied with the turn of events, the Mexican started to pressure the Canadian midfield higher and play became more balanced until half-time, reached with a meager advantage of two goals for Canada.
Things didn’t improve for Canada after the break, Mexico coming back within one goal after a superb effort by Ruben MARTINEZ who outran the defenders and coolly negotiated the one-on-one with David CARTER in the Canadian goal. The Canadians looked tired and did not seem to have the legs to outplay the young Mexican players. They scored a few goals in the last twenty minutes of the game but, with play becoming chaotic at times, a final score of 7-3 was very far from the initial objective of the Canadians.
Uruguay vs. Trinidad & Tobago: 0 - 10 (half-time: 0-3)
The game between these two teams was void of any passion, Trinidad & Tobago obviously disillusioned to play to avoid the bottom of the group while they were aiming for a spot in semi-final. They scored their first goal in the 11th minute but had to wait for the last five minutes of the period to add two more, for a meager advantage at half-time.
The Uruguayan players became exhausted in second period and the Trinidadians added seven more goals, including a hat-trick for Mickell PIERRE.
Brazil vs. Chile: 0 - 9 (half-time: 0 - 6)
After the weak result of Canada, Chile needed to win by a difference of nine goals to top the group. They immediately set to the task at hand and quickly overwhelmed the young and inexperienced Brazilian team. They had already scored three goals after twelve minutes, but then seem to fall in the same trap as Canada, trying too hard to score too quickly. After putting their house back in order, they scored three more goals before half-time, going into the break with a six-goal lead and well on their way to their objective.
The Brazilians were well backed by Rodrigo FAUSTINO doing miracles in goal. With time passing and no additional goal scored, the Chilean players started to play nervously and missed seemingly easy goals and a number of penalty-corners, while the crowd became increasingly impatient. Brazil tried very hard and delayed the scoring as much as they could, but a yellow card and an injury to their goalkeeper were too much and Chile finally scored two more goals.
Eight goals were not enough though, and tension on the field raised a few more notches, especially when Alexis BERZCELLY got a yellow card. With five minutes left, Alfredo THIERMANN finally scored the ninth goal after a long run, sending his teammates and the crowd in ecstatic celebrations. Finally, Chile edged Canada by a whisker (one more goal) to top pool A, but Mexico and Brazil must be commanded for playing to their full potential and fairly playing their role of referee in the battle between the two top teams.
Round-Robin Final Standings:
Pool A – 1) Argentina 2) USA 3) Trinidad & Tobago 4) Uruguay
Pool B – 1) Chile 2) Canada 3) Mexico 4) Brazil
The 2009 Pan American Cup continues on Thursday in Santiago with the cross-over games for 5-8, when Trinidad & Tobago meet Brazil and Mexico play Uruguay.
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