World Cup: Las Leonas and Hockeyroos complete semi-final line-up
Sports Bulletin Report
ISLAMABAD:-A slick three-pass move that finished with Victoria Granatto slipping the ball past Maddie Hinch was the sole goal in a fascinating encounter between Argentina and England. While Las Leonas dominated possession, England put up a stalwart defence and were it not for two moments of goalkeeping brilliance from Belen Succi could have taken the game to shoot-out. Argentina will now face Germany in the semi-finals.
The second quarter-final had a heap of expectation riding on it as the fans poured into the stadium to cheer on the host nation Spain. That hope was dented early as Australia scored in the third minute. Spain never stopped believing but a second goal meant the Red Sticks had a mountain to climb and it was not their day to achieve miracles.
Argentina will now play Germany, while Australia will face the reigning champions Netherlands in the semi-finals on Saturday 16 July.
In the earlier matches, Korea and India ended their World Cup campaigns with wins as they signed off with storng performances. Korea went toe-to-toe with a resilient Canada and then held their nerve in the shoot-out. India withstood an early Japan surge and then found a flowing style of play that had eluded them for most of the tournament.
Canada vs Korea (13-16 place)
In the sweltering heat of Terrassa, Canada and Korea went head to head in the battle for 13th place. There were personal milestones for stalwarts of both teams. For Canada, Sara McManus was playing her 200th cap, while Korea's Cho Hyejon was celebrating 100 international caps. Both teams had good moments in the opening quarter although Korea looked the more dangerous towards the end of the 15 minutes. Twice, the Asian team created chances for a tap-in at each post after some good build-up play. On both occasions the ball placement was perfect but the recipient just failed to make contact.
The second quarter was much the same, with both teams working hard to maintain possession but just failing to find the final, killer pass. Canada won a penalty corner but failed to convert, while Korea tended to spend a lot of time building up play but made very little inroad into the Canada circle.
Going into the fourth quarter, neither team had really looked close to scoring and there was a growing tension as time ticked on. Brienne Stairs made some strong runs along the Korea baseline but again was unable to find her usual deft, goalscoring touch.
Korea won their first penalty corner in the 50th minute. Karli Johansen timed a tackle all wrong and Korea sensed a chance to break the deadline. Johansen made up for her error as she dived full length to divert the ball away from the danger area.
It was perhaps inevitable that the match would go to shoot-out. Neither team seemed to be prepared to take risks in order to go for the win, so it was a cagey game throughout.
Throughout this tournament both Lee Jinmin and Rowan Harris, in the Korea and Canada goals respectively, have been super when under pressure. Today it was Lee Jinmin who really shone as she made two saves and ensured that Korea won the shoot-out.
India vs Japan (9-12th place)
This was a well-contested match between two rivals who know each other well. Japan started the more brightly of the two teams, and were rewarded with a goal in the 20th minute from Asai Yu. The build-up play to that point had been very neat and creative from the Japanese team, with lots of 3D skills and high energy.
India also had their opportunities in the opening 30 minutes, Nisha was proving a scourge to the Japanese defence and Navneet continued to show why she is such a respected forward.
With four minutes left before half-time, India really began to pile on the pressure with a well disciplined press. This led to a penalty corner but Gurjit Kaur sent the shot just wide. More great work from Monika and Navneet earned the next penalty corner. Japan were defending with everything they had, with Suzuki Miyu and Oikawa Shihori foiling the India attack time and again.
The breakthrough came from Navneet. She was fed the ball by Nisha, after some good build-up work by Jyoti. Navneet received the ball, turned and shot with venom past Nakamura Eika in the Cherry Blossom's goal.
That goal seemed to lift the tension in the India team and they began to play with the flowing passing and moving that is the Eves at their best. A penalty corner gave Grace the chance to take the lead: her shot flew firnly over the sprawling Nakamura into the goal. Navneet added to that on the cusp of quarter time and it was clear that India had finally found their groove.
Argentina vs England (quarter-final)
The blisteringly hot pitch in Terrassa was the scene of the first quarter-final of the day, but the temperature didn't put any sort of brake on the tempo of the Argentina or England players. While the Argentina team had the lion's share of possession in the opening quarter, England had set up a defence that wasn't going to let anyone past easily.
England didn't help themselves with some cheaply given away balls but fortunately for them the Argentina forwards were struggling to get their shots on target.
The second quarter saw both teams create scoring chances. While England's forwards did test Belen Succi and her defence, it was the England defence who were under the far greater pressure. As the game progressed Eugenia Trincinetti and Sofia Toccalino began to have far greater influence and were launching attacks on England from the midfield.
It was all square at the break. Argentina had dominated possession but Maddie Hinch in the England goal would have been surprised at how few saves she had needed to make.
The third quarter had everything except goals. Both teams were playing high tempo, skilful hockey but the goals just weren't coming. Izzy Petter came close to diverting a cross from Shona McCallin as England began to find their feet in the game.
It was a super piece of running by Toccalino that finally got a breakthrough. Toccalino played the ball to Rocio Sanchez, who then slipped it to Victoria Granatto. The elder Granatto sister slipped it past Maddie Hinch, much to the delight of Las Leonas and their fans.
Argentina then won the first penalty corner of the match. Agustina Gorzelany's shot was chased down by Izzy Petter and Hollie Pearne-Webb cleared the ball to Hannah Martin for an England counter attack.
With just under three minutes left, England removed their goalkeeper to get a on-field advantage. The tactic paid off instantly as England won a penalty corner. Giselle Ansley flung a shot at the Argentina goal but Succi was well up to the challenge and made the crucial save.
There was one last chance as Lily Owsley drove along the line and slipped to Sophie Hamilton. Sharp as a knife, Belen Succi was onto the ball and there were tears of pain from England and joy from Las Leonas as they realised they had made it to the semi-finals and a clash with Germany. the moment was doubly sweet for Agustina Albertarrio as she celebrated 200 caps for Las Leonas.
Spain vs Australia (quarter-final)
Australia got off to the best of starts when Renee Taylor's straight strike from a penalty corner gave the Hockeyroos the lead in the third minute. Just a minute later and Jocelyn Bartram in the Australia goal pulled off a crucial save from a Xantal Gine penalty corner strike.
The quarter was frenetic and entertaining. Australia were playing the ball around the pitch with composure and this was in stark contrast to the Spanish style of quick passing, largely through the creative midfield dynamo Georgina Oliva.
Spain's best chance in the quarter fell to Laura Barrios when three quick passes put the player in front of the Australia goal. Her shot was blocked by Bartram.
The second quarter saw Spain gain confidence across the pitch and we witnessed two very different styles of play. Australia were swinging the ball around the pitch, driving forwards from the wide channels; Spain, by contrast, were playing intricate passes through the centre of the field. At the end of the quarter, Melanie Garcia made a fabulous diving save to prevent Hannah Cullum-Sanders scoring her first senior goal.
Australia extended their lead and Taylor extended her personal tally in the 41st minute when she scored a second penalty corner goal. This time the strike was high past Garcia's shoulder. The keeper had conceded the corner after clearing the ball dangerously.
The final few minutes of the quarter saw Spain working furiously to get back on terms but Australia's defence was solid and the teams went to the third quarter break with Spain knowing they had a mountain to climb.
As the last 15 minutes counted down and Spain were unable to breach the Hockeyroos' defence, Jane Claxton knew she would be celebrating her 200th cap with a win and a place in the semi-finals against the Netherlands.