Result Men's Semi-final 2: Australia v Argentina 3-0 (5-1)
Australia marched into the finals of the Rabobank Hockey World Cup after leaving Los Leones stunned by a dominant display of attack and counter-attacking hockey of the highest quality. Earlier in the day, the Netherlands coach Paul van Ass had said he hoped to meet the Kookaburras in the final because they played a style of hockey he admired. It is a wish that has come true, but may also come back to haunt him if Australia continue their current trend of improving with every game.
The result means that the Kyocera Stadium will host a double header between Australia and the Netherlands this weekend as both the mens and women's finals will feature the same protagonists.
While most of the traffic was one-way, there was some special moments of magic for Argentina, confirming their new status as a major player on the world hockey stage. A bronze medal match against England should make for an intriguing encounter between two very different styles of play.
The first goal in this semi-final was all about Kieran Govers (4'): the Australian front man intercepted a loose Argentinian pass and then won a penalty corner as he drove towards goal. His drag flick was inch perfect as it shot past the outstretched arm of Juan Vivaldi in the Argentine goal.
It was one-way traffic for the remainder of the first half, Matt Gohdes came close with a stunning strike that brought out the best of Vivaldi and Matthew Swann showed outrageous skill to receive an aerial ball in the circle, control it and shoot on the bounce. His shot flying just wide of Vivaldi's post.
The youngest member of the Kookaburra's team, Jeremy Hayward, scored his second goal of the competition on the 22nd minute of the game. His shot rocketed into the net to double the lead and put even more pressure on the Argentine team to find a way back into the goal. The Kookaburras third goal was scored by Jacob Whetton, the 22-year-old atoning for a poor pass just seconds earlier. He received a field-splitting pass from captain Mark Knowles and with a swift turn, fired a tomahawk shot into the net to make it 3-0 going into half-time.
Australia's goal-fest continued with Chris Ciriello (49'): the big man putting everything into the drag-flick that rocketed past Vivaldi. This was followed six minutes later when Hayward scored his second – another drag-flick penalty corner, indicating that Australia's goal-scoring future is in safe hands.
Despite the Australian domination, there were moments of Latin American brilliance. A moment of sublime skill from Joaquin Menini occurred as the game drew towards its conclusion. The Argentine player received the ball in the air and juggled it on the edge of the circle before smashing it at the net. Andrew Charters in the Kookaburra's goal got the faintest of touches and Matthew Swann was able to clear his 'keeper's line. It was a moment of pure hockey excellence from all three players involved.
It would have been the most unjust of semi-finals if Gonzalo Peillat did not get his moment in the sun and it came in the 58th minute. Goal hero Hayward turned villain for a moment as he fouled Lucas Vila on the top of the circle. The penalty corner strike from Peillat was a thunderous drag-flick, confirming his position as current top scorer in the World Cup with 10 goals.
Australian captain Mark Knowles said: "Our first priority was to get to the semi-finals. The big one is now on Sunday. We have fought for four years to get here. After London 2012 we were disappointed with how we went about things and our goal was to be in the final in this majestic stadium. We are here, the Netherlands are here and the final is on Sunday."
Coach Ric Charlesworth said: "I think we played a very solid first half, although we lost concentration towards the end, which is a worry to me. We have been in Europe now for four weeks and we are ready for this important game."
When asked if he was happy to meet the Dutch in the final, the coach said: "I don't care whose there. The Dutch are there because they have worked hard and we have worked hard to get there too."
Argentina Coach Carlos Retegui said: "It was a tough match so we tried to give it our best and get some counter-attack. But this game was not our game. We couldn't get the penalty corners we wanted to get. We wanted to give Gonzalo a chance to strike penalty corners but that didn't happen. Australia had 80 per cent possession which makes it very difficult to play against. But I am very happy and proud of the players."
Official Match Report (PDF)
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