The Netherlands have recorded a stunning shoot-out victory against host nation Argentina to reach the final of the inaugural Hockey World League. Normal time finished with the scores locked at 2-2, with the Dutch winning a dramatic shoot-out 3-2 to set up a meeting with Australia in Sunday's grand final. Argentina and England fight it out for the bronze medal.
The match itself was nothing short of incredible, as the two best teams in the world traded blows at a relentless pace in front six thousand screaming Argentinean fans. The Dutch made an explosive start to the contest, taking the lead in only the second minute when Maartje Paumen silenced the capacity crowd with a penalty corner rocket.
Las Leonas levelled the scores thanks to a moment of magic from Agustina Alberarrio, who showed incredible stick-work to create space for herself before crashing a shot towards goal. The ball rattled between the legs of Netherlands keeper Joyce Sombroek, with Martina Cavallero pouncing from close range to bring Argentina level.
The game continued to swing from end to end, with both sides producing mesmerising moments in a desire to claim the next goal. A ferocious Maartje Paumen penalty corner was miraculously cleared to safety thanks to a stunning reaction from Argentina’s Mariela Scarone, while Netherlands ace Lidewij Welten almost scored a brilliant solo effort, evading four tackles before firing agonisingly wide of the target.
Moments after hitting the frame of Sombroek’s goal, Argentina moved ahead in the match with a superb penalty corner routine, with Rosario Luchetti guiding Silvina D’Elia’s strike into the roof of the net.
The Netherlands restored parity in the 56th minute thanks to a high quality volley from Roos Drost, before Paumen saw an overtime penalty corner effort brilliantly saved by the diving Belen Succi.
Succi’s save took the match into penalties. Misses from Carla Rebecchi and Mariela Scarone put the home side under serious pressure, but a miss from Welten kept the match alive. The decisive moment came when Luciana Aymar – who was crowned FIH Player of the Year for an incredible eighth time immediately after the match – saw her effort saved by Sombroek, sealing victory for the Dutch.
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