South Americans finish top of the pile on goal difference in Johor
Argentina have topped Pool A thanks to a 3-0 triumph over Korea, putting them ahead of Germany on goal difference at the Hockey World League Semi Final in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. A score-less first half was followed by a trio of goals from Facundo Callioni, Matias Paredes and Gonzalo Peillat, ensuring that the South Americans finished top of the pile in Pool A. Earlier in the day, Germany battled to a 3-1 win against Japan thanks to second half strikes from Florian Fuchs and Christopher Zeller.
Full reports of the matches and video highlights can be found below.
Argentina – Korea 3-0 (0-0)
Argentina have topped Pool A thanks to a 3-0 triumph over Korea, putting them ahead of Germany on goal difference. A score-less first half was followed by a trio of goals from Facundo Callioni, Matias Paredes and Gonzalo Peillat, ensuring that the South Americans finished top of the pile in Pool A.
The result means that on Thursday, Argentina will play the bottom ranked team in Pool B. Their opponents will be confirmed upon the completion of the Pool phase later today.
Both sides – who met last year in the final of the Champions Challenge in Quilmes, with Argentina emerging as 5-0 winners - enjoyed periods of possession in an evenly contested first half, but clear-cut scoring opportunities were few and far between. Rock solid defending was on show for the first 20 minutes, with shots on goal a rare sight.
The first real chance came the way of Korea, who won a penalty corner in the 25th minute, but set piece expert Jang Jong Hyun failed to test the goalkeeper with his powerful drag-flick.
Argentina won a penalty corner of their own late in the period, giving Gonzalo Peillat the chance to show his set-piece prowess. However, his deflected effort was cleared off the goal-line by defender Lee Nam Yong, ensuring that the teams went into half time with no mark on the scoreboard.
The second half was a far livelier affair. Chances came and went at either end, but still the scores remained locked together. Just when it seemed that neither team would break the deadlock, Argentina came up with two goals in less than three minutes. The first came from the stick of Facundo Callioni, who slid in to capitalise after Korea had failed to effectively clear their lines before Guillermo Schickendantz showed quick thinking to tee up a simple second for Matias Paredes.
Argentina wrapped up the win in the 68th minute thanks to a ripper of a penalty corner from Gonzalo Peillat, who slammed a low flick into the bottom left corner of the Korean goal.
Germany – Japan 3-1 (1-1)
World number 1 Germany overcame a rain delay and stern resistance to emerge as winners against Japan in the first match of Day 3 here in Johor Bahru. The European giants took a 3-1 triumph, with second half strikes from Florian Fuchs and Christopher Zeller doing the damage after the teams went into half time with the score locked at 1-1.
The result means that Germany have guaranteed a top 2 finish in Pool A, meaning that they will play either the third or fourth place finisher in Pool B. Their exact placing will be known following the meeting between Argentina v Korea, which is the final match of Pool A.
The scheduled start time was pushed back by 15 minutes due to a torrential downpour in the build-up to the contest. Despite the delay, the rain made a significant contribution in lowering the temperature ahead of what was an entertaining contest between the highest and lowest ranked teams in the tournament.
Japan keeper Katsuya Takese produced a fine block in the fifth minute of the game to deny German teenage sensation Christopher Ruehr, but the reigning Olympic champions did not have to wait long for their opener. A fierce cross from the right by Pilt Arnold was too hot to handle for Japanese defender Manabu Yamashita, who inadvertently guided the ball under the body of the helpless Takese.
Impressively, Japan were not phased by conceding a goal so early in the game and levelled the scores ten minutes later thanks to a well taken penalty stroke from team captain Kojo Kayukawa, who sent Germany keeper Nico Jacobi the wrong way following a foul by Tobias Hauke.
Germany were arguably the superior side for the majority of the period, but failed to show their usual killer instinct in the circle. However, that all changed early in the second half when 2012 FIH Young Player of the Year Florian Fuchs lashed home a thunderous backhand shot from eight metres out.
The Europeans could easily have had more were it not for some superb saves from Takese, who was at the top of his game and clearly enjoying the chance to prove himself against the world’s best. Time after time the shot-stopper made crucial saves, denying one of the most potent strike forces in the game.
Despite Takese’s heroics, a third German goal always seemed likely. It arrived in the 62nd minute courtesy of a fine close range finish from Christopher Zeller, who was teed up perfectly thanks to a driving run along the back line from Linus Butt. It proved to be the last goal of the game, putting Germany onto seven points from a potential nine in Pool A.Back