Australia secured a last minute winner and Argentina pulled off a shock victory over the Netherlands in the opening two games of the inaugural Hockey World League. Jacob Whetton secured Australia all three points in the opening match of the Hero Hockey World League Final in Delhi.
Despite the tenacity of Belgium who fought back twice, the Kookaburras emerged with a 3-2 win. The winning goal was scored with two minutes remaining on the clock. Whetton, selected as Hero Man of the Match, said: "We played well for most of the game but we were a bit scrappy in places. I think we were pumped up and containing that is something we must work on."
It took up to the 32nd minute until the spectators in the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium saw the first penalty corner. Kieran Govers (33’) skilfully scored the opening goal of the Hero Hockey World League.
However, it took Belgium less than one minute to equalise through a shot from a wide angle by Tom Boon (34’).
Despite Lammer’s warning to his team not to give away possession, the Red Lions ran into another Aussie counter-attack which led to their third penalty corner. It was again Govers (48’) taking the shot and scoring.
Belgium raised the speed of the game, eventually equalising again thanks to Thomas Briels (53’). After two penalty corners in quick succession had failed for Belgium, Kookaburra Whetton (69’) scored the winner with less than two minutes remaining on the clock.
Meanwhile, in the other Pool B game, 11th ranked Argentina beat one of the pre-tournament favourites, the Netherlands 5-2.
Argentine intent was signalled when they took the lead in just the second minute of the game through a penalty corner, which top scorer Gonzalo Peillat slotted away. “This was a very important goal. I’m happy that we scored two drag-flick goals today”, Peillat says.
The Netherlands responded immediately with an equally well-taken penalty corner from penalty corner specialist Mink van der Weerden (5') but just three minutes later Argentina reclaimed the lead with a diving conversion by Facundo Callioni (8').
The remainder of the first half was quiet in comparison, with both sides taking a cagey approach. And these defensive tactics continued for the first 15 minutes of the second half. It was the Netherlands who broke the deadlock in the second half when Seve van Ass (50') levelled for the Netherlands.
Six minutes later and Los Leones re-gained their advantage when first Pedro Ibarra (56') shot home from open play and then Guido Barriedes (60') scored a beautifully-taken goal following sustained Argentine pressure.
Follow the action on the FIH event site.
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