World Champions Argentina started their Champions Trophy defence in winning fashion, fighting their way past hard working England with a 1-0 victory. Team captain and seven time FIH Player of the Year Luciana Aymar produced a moment of individual brilliance in the second half to score the game’s only goal, giving Las Leonas all three points to take top spot in Pool A.
England were arguably the better team in the first half, although they were restricted to limited opportunities within the Argentina circle thanks to Noel Barrionuevo’s well drilled defensive line. Alex Danson was the liveliest of the England forwards in the first half, entering the circle on numerous occasions only to be denied by good tackles and an important block from goalkeeper Belen Succi.
Luciana Aymar, who has recently returned to the Argentina side following a long period of rest, looked imperious when in possession, but the England midfield worked hard to ensure that she rarely received the ball. Late in the first half she broke free of her shackles and surged into the England circle, but goalkeeper Beth Storry came out quickly to deny her a shooting opportunity.
Shortly before the break England were awarded a penalty corner, but Argentina successfully appealed to the video umpire who spotted an infringement and overturned the decision.
Argentina were certainly the better team in the second period, stepping up the pace of their play and applying pressure on the England circle. Noel Barrionuevo had two chances to open the scoring from penalty corner situations, but the England defence held firm.
The breakthrough for Argentina came in the 52nd minute, and it was a moment to savour. Luciana Aymar picked the ball up inside the England 25 with her back to goal before weaving her way into the circle and drilling a reverse stick into the bottom left corner of the goal, much to the delight of coach Carlos Retegui who celebrated as much as his players.
The final stages of the match were frantic as England tried to rescue the game, but Argentina held on to start their 2011 CT campaign in the perfect way.
Review 2. Argentina vs England 1-0 - Rabo FIH Champions Trophy 2011
> Argentina won their fifth successive CT match, their longest winning streak in the competition.
> Argentina extended their winning streak in major competitions to 12. Since drawing 2-2 with Germany at the 2010 CT in Nottingham, Las Leonas have now won 5 CT matches and 7 World Cup matches.
> England’s 4-match unbeaten streak in CT competition came to an end. This marked their first CT defeat since their 3-0 defeat against the Netherlands in 2010, their only defeat in Nottingham.
> Soledad Garcia played her 65th CT match, equalling Minke Smeets-Smabers and Maria Magdalena Aicega. Only Luciana Aymar has played more CT matches (73).
> Luciana Aymar scored the match winning goal for Argentina for the first time since the 2006 CT, when she scored a last minute PC goal in Argentina’s 3-2 win over Australia.
> Noel Barrionuevo missed two penalty corners for Argentina in this match. She is the all-time CT top scorer in terms of penalty corners, having converted 19.
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