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Argentina – USA 1-0 (0-0 halftime)
Argentina’s World League campaign started off with a whimper as they looked far from a World #2 team in a slim 1-0 win against tenth-ranked USA. While Argentina was clearly off their game, credit must be given to the Americans who stuck to their game plan and held Las Leonas scoreless.
It was a murky return for Luciana Aymar, making her first appearance in a major event after sitting out due to injury for several months. She was still a force to be reckoned with, but the longer the game wore on the more the frustration of not being able to score showed on the purple-clad Argentines’ faces.
It wasn’t until there was just over two minutes on the clock that Argentina scored the game-winner, and only goal, of the game. Rosario Luchetti got her stick on a penalty corner flick and deflected the ball into the net to save the three points for Argentina.
It seems USA can do what many other top world teams can’t – stifle Argentina. The Americans earned their berth to the 2012 Olympics after upsetting Argentina in the Pan American Cup and one year later, they nearly did the same on the opening day of the Investec Hockey World League in London.
The game closed a low-scoring debut day for the teams in Group A. China and Italy combined for three goals in the earlier group match. The Chinese and Argentina now share possession of first place in Group A with three points. They are trailed by the U.S., and Italy with zero points after the first day of action.
China – Italy 2-1 (1-0 halftime)
Seventh-ranked China survived a scare from a plucky and determined 17th-ranked Italian squad in the opening game of the Investec Hockey World League in London after eking out a 2-1 win.
Hongxia Li was the hero for the Chinese, she scored both goals in the key win, including the game winner with five minutes left on the clock.
It was clear from the opening of the game that Italy was not going to be an easy opponent as they held their own against the disciplined Chinese side. But the technical skills of the Chinese started to shine through the longer the match wore on and eventually Li struck with a baseline goal in the eighth minute. To give the Italians credit, they didn’t get rattled after falling behind and instead stepped up their game to frustrate the Chinese chances.
The 1-0 lead stood for more than 50 minutes when Valentina Braconi batted in the game-tying goal eliciting an enormous celebration from the Italian team that would rival most football squads. But the jubilation was short-lived as Li had the answer six minutes later to bring the final to 2-1.
Italy will look to rebound tomorrow with a match against the United States, while China will have to improve its game if they hope to have a chance against World #2 Argentina tomorrow.
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