Australia vs. Spain: 2-0 (half-time: 0-0)
Australia were eager to confirm their opening day win against Argentina and were all over the Spanish circle from the initial whistle but could not capitalize, including on a series of penalty-corners. Both teams had trouble settling in and there were a number of unforced errors and passes going astray for most of the period.
The best chance was for Spaniard Anton Parente, diving at full stretch on a long pass, but his deflection went marginally wide of the Australian post. Neither team could create a dangerous enough challenge, and the break was reached on a goalless score.
Australia finally managed to score in the 38th minute by their captain Daniel Beale, finding the ball in a messy scramble in the circle after Spanish goalkeeper Mario Fernandez Garin stopped three shots in quick succession from close range. Spain had a chance on the next action on a penalty-corner (downgraded from a penalty-stroke after a video-referral) but Andrew Butturini was up to the task in the Australian goal.
Australia had most of ball possession but could not really take control. It is only in the 63rd minute that Dylan Wotherspoon found space in the circle to escape his marker and clinically slot the ball out of reach of Mario Fernandez Garin to give a more comfortable 2-goal cushion to the Kookaburras.
Spain had a desperate final surge but they could not come back. They were left with two losses in so many matches, while Australia booked a quarter-final berth with their second win of the competition.
For more information and pictures of AUS vs. ESP, click here.
Argentina vs. France: 2-3 (half-time: 2-2)
France controlled possession in the opening sequences of play but Argentina pressed them very high, preventing any territorial advance. Argentina were prompt to jump on any loose ball to surge forward and Edgar Reynaud in the French goal was called into urgent action a few times in the first ten minutes.
Play was fast and furious, going at breakneck speed from one end to the next. France had a chance on penalty-corner but scrambled it and Argentina scored on a swift counter-attack that found Estanislao Perez Pesado unmarked in the circle with the easy task of blasting the ball in goal.
France came back in the 25th minute by Pieter Van Straaten, with a spectacular dive at the far post to deflect a high ball lifted by the foot of a defender. They used their momentum to force a second penalty-corner. They scrambled again their trap but recovered promptly to fool the Argentinean defense and take the lead by Theophile Ponthieu.
Umpires had to show a couple of yellow cards to cool the tempers and Argentina came back on the buzzer with a penalty-stroke by Gonzalo Peillat, sending the two teams back to back into the break.
The same Peillat had a chance on penalty-corner in the opening minute of second period but his low drag-flick was calmly saved by Reynaud. Pace of play remained very high, offering an entertaining display of attacking hockey, much to the pleasure of the large group of French fans. Les Bleus (ironically playing all in white today) took the lead in the 48th minute by Jean-Laurent Kieffer, turning around his defender and slotting a sweet reverse-stick lob over the diving goal-keeper.
This seemed to take some wind out of the South American sails and a period of French domination ensued. They could not capitalize and Argentina progressively came back into the game, setting the stage for a torrid end of match. Argentina replaced their keeper with a field player with three minutes to go, pushing France on their heels. But, buoyed by their vocal fans, the French managed to cling to their narrow lead, earning their second win of the competition and quarter-final berth.
For more information and pictures of ARG vs. FRA, click here.
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