18/04/2024

The Hockeyroos are through to the knockout stages at the top of Pool B. Photo: Hockeyroos Twitter

In the top of Pool B clash, it was the Hockeyroos who broke the deadlock late-on and solidified their women's hockey favouritism with their fifth straight win, defeating Argentina 2-0.

In the top of Pool B clash, it was the Hockeyroos who broke the deadlock late on and solidified their women’s hockey favouritism with their fifth straight win, defeating Argentina 2-0. For all your Tokyo 2020 coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.

Argentina carried the strong form into the match-up having rattled off three consecutive wins to sit in second of Pool B. For the Hockeyroos, it was all about consolidating top spot and progressing with the most favourable knockout stage match-ups possible. They were in the midst of their best-ever start at an Olympic Games with four straight wins.

That would mean not losing by four goals to Argentina, which was promising considering they had only conceded one goal in the tournament so far.

Desperate defence denies Argentines early

Argentina came out firing, putting the Hockeyroos on the back foot early. It was clear that the Aussies were content with controlling possession and keeping this match low scoring.

The high line from the Argentinians really challenged the Hockeyroo defenders, who worked hard to maintain possession.

Rosie Malone – who has put together a sensational debut Olympics – went the closest for Australia, firing wide from the right side of the cage.

For Argentina, it was unable to convert from a penalty corner in the dying stages of the first term, and the sides went in at 0-0.

Argentina was able to get its second penalty corner early in the second. Once again Australia was able to quell the attack, but the Argentines continued to run with waves and create overlap, forcing the Hockeyroos into scramble mode.

Two green cards in quick succession proved the biggest challenge for the undefeated Hockeyroos in the first half. Down two players for two minutes, Argentina sensed the occasion and upped the anti, pressing with forwards and midfielders. Once again, Australia was fantastic in defence.

Steph Kershaw worked her way down the by-line and flicked it into Maddy Fitzpatrick who trapped, spun, and fired but was denied by the goalkeeper at the near post in the best-attacking foray of the half for the Aussies.

Both defences proved too strong for the half, with a really tight contest going into half-time at 0-0.

Savannah Fitzpatrick!

The steely affair continued into the second half, and the soaring temperatures of Japan were starting to take a toll on the game.

For Argentina, its high-pressure defence and the fast-paced offence were starting to wane, after a half of high-intensity work that didn’t produce a result on the scoreboard.

Australia was unable to take advantage of an Argentinian yellow card, ending the third term scoreless once again. Players were visibly tiring under the sun, with the final quarter set to test both sides. Both sides looked settled with the final result being a draw, as it wouldn’t change the standings.

The biggest moment of the match occurred in the early moments of the fourth quarter. Argentina – awarded a penalty corner – was unable to trap the ball and it skimmed down the field as Australia latched onto it on the counter.

In a moment of veteran experience, the Argentina skipper called for a referral on the penalty corner, which stopped the attacking foray and halted the game’s flow. It was confirmed that there was no penalty on the short corner, and the Hockeyroos received the ball again but were no longer in a counter-attacking opportunity.

Not to be denied, the Hockeyroos would deservedly open the scoring just moments later.

Savannah Fitzpatrick smashed home the opportunity with her backhand after sniffing out the opportunity, taking the ball off the Argentina defender and lining up the shot as calmly as you like with just 10 minutes remaining.

https://twitter.com/7olympics/status/1421320587918598146?s=20

Despite its opportunities, Argentina couldn’t respond on the scoreboard. Instead, Australia doubled its lead.

Sprinting down the right-hand by-line from Kershaw, the ball was flicked into Fitzpatrick who controlled the ball and unselfishly crossed it to Emily Chalker, who once again scored for the Hockeyroos and continued her unbelievable campaign.

With just a minute remaining, Australia was home.

The win puts the Hockeyroos firmly in first in Pool B. They go through to the knockout stage undefeated at 5-0, defeating heavyweights Argentina and New Zealand which will give them great confidence.

They will face either India or Ireland in the quarter-final, with it all to play for.

The Hockeyroos are well and truly gold medal favourites at Tokyo 2020.

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