The Kookaburras cruised to another dominant win, beating Argentina 5-2 at Oi Hockey Stadium on Monday afternoon. For all your Tokyo 2020 coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.
It was a tantalising matchup before the teams even took to the field, Australia coming into the match with two wins and the world number one ranking under its belt, while Argentina loomed as a threat as the reigning Olympic champion.
The Lions controlled the game early, locking the ball into their forward half and earning back-to-back penalty corners in the fourth minute.
The first penalty very nearly resulted in a goal, but on the second Argentina got on the board. Veteran Leandro Tolini launched a powerful strike that evaded Kookaburras goalkeeper Andrew Charter.
The first quarter continued with Argentina sustaining control, but Australia responded well, wrestling back the momentum and drawing two penalty corners of its own in the final minutes of the quarter.
The quarter ended remarkably cyclically, with a shot on goal from the first corner saved, and the follow-up immediately resulting in a goal through Blake Govers to draw Australia level with just seconds to go.
The Kookaburras continued this dominance into the second quarter, continuing right where they left off, restricting Argentina’s ball movement with a second goal to edge ahead six minutes into the quarter.
It was Tom Wickham on the far post who received Tim Brand’s flick across the face of the goals, making no mistake as he slotted it through.
Brand was again in the action a few minutes later with three shots in the space of a minute, applying the offensive pressure which resulted in another penalty corner for Australia.
The tale and theme of the game’s goal-scoring continued after this, the Kookaburras failing to convert the first penalty but on the second corner – which again immediately followed – getting their third.
On this occasion it was Blake Govers again, sneaking one to the left of the goalkeeper from the top of the circle, which took his goal tally at the Games to five from the Kookaburras’ three games.
The Kookaburras didn’t have to wait long to add another either, with an excellent run of play characterised by fast and direct ball movement eventuating with a Lachie Sharp goal.
Tom Wickham received the ball from deep outside the circle and deftly deflected the ball past two Argentina defenders onto Sharp, who made no mistake as he buried the ball into the back of the goals.
This dominant quarter set the game up nicely for the Kookaburras as they took this 4-1 lead into the half time break.
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The third quarter was comparatively less eventful, Argentina with another two consecutive penalty corners part-way through the quarter, neither of which yielded a goal as the Kookaburras were strong defensively.
But the Kookaburras added another later in the quarter, again after the second in a set of consecutive corners. This time it was Jeremy Hayward, capitalising with an accurate and powerful flick into the top-left corner of the goal.
This all but sealed the game for the Kookaburras with a quarter to spare, claiming a lead that would prove to be unassailable for the Lions.
Tim Brand was again in the action early in the fourth quarter, very nearly squeezing a shot past the goalkeeper with an innovative flick, but it was well-saved by Argentina goalkeeper Juan Manuel Vivaldi.
There was joy in the final term for the reigning Olympic champions, however, as Maico Casella capitalised from the top of the circle from a penalty corner with five minutes to play in the match.
The 5-2 victory extends Australia’s lead at the top of the Group A table, while also handing Argentina its first loss of its Tokyo 2020 campaign.
The Kookaburras come up against New Zealand for their fourth match on Wednesday night, while Argentina will face off against India on Thursday morning.
Final Result: Australia 5 – 2 Argentina
Australia Goals: Blake Govers 15’, 23’, Tom Wickham 21’, Lachie Sharp 25’, Jeremy Hayward 39’.
Argentina Goals: Leandro Tolini 13’, Maico Casella 55’
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