FIH Pro League 2019: Argentina completes double over New Zealand in Auckland
Argentina silenced the city of Auckland as both male and female sides earned victories over the Black Sticks in front of a packed North Harbour Hockey Stadium in Auckland on Sunday (10 March).
In the absence of their notable and key players; goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi, defender Pedro Ibarra and penalty corner ace Gonzalo Peillat, Argentina’s Men (WR: 4) still managed to get all maximum points at the expense of the home side.
A rather young Los Leones side produced an emphatic display to down the Black Sticks, with Lucas Vila producing a Player of the Match performance as goals from Martin Ferreiro and Maico Casella took them up into fourth position in the FIH Pro League standings.
The first quarter however ended in a stalemate as both teams failed to utilize their opening chances; Maico Casella for Argentina and Stephen Jenness of New Zealand. The deadlock was finally broken though in the second quarter courtesy Martin Ferreiro who benefited from a defensive blunder to beat goalkeeper George Enersen from a tight angle.
New Zealand’s Jenness and Jared Panchia came close to levelling the scores in the third quarter then Casella doubled Argentina’s advantage with a low penalty corner to leave the hosts with a mountain to climb if they were to claim their first win of the FIH Pro League.
Black Sticks Head Coach Darren Smith replaced goalkeeper Joyce with an outfield player to turn up the heat on their opponents. The impact was almost immediate, with Kane Russell reducing the deficit a penalty corner inside the left post to set up a grandstand finish but that was all time could afford as the South Americans bagged all three points.
Argentina’s women (WR:4) produced an excellent first half performance as they set about the task of matching their male compatriots, with their attacking players proving too hot to handle for New Zealand (WR:6) as the South American giants opened up a 2-0 lead.
Las Leonas went ahead few minutes to end the first quarter through Agustina Albertarrio. The advantage was doubled when Micaela Retegui – daughter of Leonas’ Head Coach Carlos ‘Chapa’ Retegui – forced home from close range to send the entire stadium into total silence.
New Zealand had the best chance of the third quarter from a penalty corner but could not beat Argentina goalkeeper Belen Succi. Rosario Luchetti made it 3-0 few minutes into the fourth quarter to put the game beyond reach for New Zealand.
The home side fought hard in the dying stage of the game but all efforts from open play and penalty corners yielded to nothing as the defence of Argentina held on strong to carry the day and move up to third position in the league standings.
The FIH Pro League continues on Friday 15 March with Spain’s men hosting Germany in Valencia, with Australia’s national teams welcoming both Argentina (Saturday 16 March) and New Zealand (Sunday 17 March) to the Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre over the weekend.