Sole goal for Spain means double defeat for France; Argentina women top table with perfect 10
Sports Bulletin Report
Lausanne, Switzerland: After the six-goal thriller the previous day, Spain and France men's side confounded spectators and each other with an equally fast-paced match but with only one goal to show for their efforts. It took until the final moments of the game for Red Sticks' Joaquin Menini to finally find a way past the excellent Arthur Thieffry in the French goal.
Argentina women continued winning ways, making it 10 wins from 10 matches after a second 3-1 victory over China. The FIH Pro League leaders were made to work for their win after China took the lead through a Gu Bingfeng penalty corner strike.
Spain beat France (men) 1-0
The host nation were the dominant force in this second match between Spain and France but, despite 31 circle entries, 12 shots and six penalty corner attempts, it was a sole, scrambled goal in the dying seconds of the match that finally separated the teams and gave Spain their third win of this season’s Pro League.
The opening quarter saw both teams continue at the same high pace they had employed in the previous day’s encounter. While both sides created chances, there was no breakthrough for either team. Spain had the greater share of possession and won a series of four penalty corners but the French defence, led by goalkeeper Arthur Thieffry, stood strong.
The second quarter followed much the same traits. There were a lot of fast, direct attacking runs by both teams but these were met by well-structured defensive units. Spain again were the marginally better team but there was really very little to choose between the sides.
At the half-time break, Max Caldas called for his team to up the ante, and play faster but simple hockey. His counterpart, the French Head Coach Fred Soyez said he was relatively pleased with the way his team were performing, particularly with the way they were soaking up the pressure from Spain.
Despite an even higher playing tempo and a number of penalty corners, particularly in the case of Spain, the goals remained elusive. Arthur Thieffry was in fine form in the French goal but Spain’s lack of variation at penalty corners did make the task somewhat easier.
Andreas Rafi almost carved out a solo goal but again Thieffry was there to halt his progress.
The match had all the makings of a draw but, as so often happens when Spain are on the pitch, there was late drama. The ball was played into the French circle and despite the best efforts of Thieffry to clear it, the final touch came from Joaquin Menini, who scrambled the ball over the line to give his team the lead.
Argentina beat China 3-1 (women)
As in the first encounter between these two teams, it was a goalless first quarter. At this point however, all comparison ceases as China played with far more intent and attacking force than the previous day, asking many questions of their higher ranked opposition.
At the end of 15 minutes, the two teams had both had penalty corner attempts and the game was expansive, unlike the previous encounter when China had set up a half court press and sat behind it.
It was four minutes into the second quarter when China’s attacking ambitions paid dividends. Gu Bingfeng stepped up to send home a fantastic drag flick to give her side the lead.
Where the Asian side could have then been forgiven if they had sat back to defend the lead, they instead continued to play attacking hockey that both challenged Argentina and asked more questions of them.
The scores were levelled in the third quarter through a neat piece of work from Julieta Jankunas. The striker latched onto a perfectly placed pass from Maria Granatto and the ball flew between the goalkeeper Lui Ping and the post.
China nearly took the lead again when a superb aerial pass from midfield was picked up in the Argentina circle but Argentina’s Clara Barbieri was on hand to smother that and save the subsequent penalty corner strike.
Argentina finally found their groove and put together some impressive passing patterns to put China on the back foot. In the fourth quarter, Agustina Gorzelany stepped up to send home a penalty corner and then Eugenia Trincihnetti was on hand to touch home a jinking pass from Maria Granatto.
Although the 3-1 scoreline is a repeat of the first match between the two sides, new Head Coach Alyson Annan will be pleased by the improvements all over the pitch that China has made from one game to the next.