The reigning men’s and women’s Olympic champions both suffered losses on Match Day 30 of the FIH Pro League, with Great Britain’s men and Argentina’s women emerging triumphant as the two nations face each other at the Estadio Mundialista in Rosario, Argentina.
Great Britain men claimed a thoroughly comprehensive victory over hosts Argentina, defeating the Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallists 5-1 to move into second place in the FIH Pro League standings. Alan Forsyth and Phil Roper both hit doubles to move GB level on points with Belgium, having claimed 75 percent of the points available to them so far in the competition. Defeat for Argentina sees them drop down to fifth position in the standings, with Germany moving up to fourth. To see the current men’s FIH Pro League standings, click here.
Argentina’s women avenged the loss suffered by their male counterparts by beating reigning Olympic champions Great Britain 4-2, with Julieta Jankunas scoring twice as Las Leonas won a fifth successive match and moved ahead of the Netherlands at the top of the women’s standings. Great Britain currently lie seventh in the table. To see the current women’s FIH Pro League standings, click here.
Great Britain’s men (FIH World Ranking: 7) were both disciplined and clinical in their success against Argentina (WR:4), with the visiting team taking complete control of the game in the second quarter. Alan Forsyth won and converted a penalty stroke midway through the period, before Sam Ward slammed a fierce penalty corner drag-flick inside the left post after he himself had been fouled in the Argentinean circle.
Argentina were on the ropes in the early stages of the third quarter and found themselves 3-0 down when Phil Roper tapped in after a crucial intervention from Liam Ansell, who stopped Los Leones from clearing their lines after Ward had stung the hands of Argentina goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi with a powerful backhand strike.
The host – who were without attacking stars Lucas Vila and Maico Casella as well as long-term absentee Gonzalo Peillat – stepped up their game after GB’s third goal and reduced the deficit when veteran striker Matias Paredes fired home from close range. However, hopes of a comeback ended just seconds after Argentina goalkeeper Vivaldi was replaced with an outfield player. The bold tactical move that has so often reaped rewards backfired on this occasion, with Forsyth and Roper claiming their second goals of the game with expert, albeit unchallenged, finishes to give Great Britain a wonderful 5-1 victory away from home.
“Playing Argentina on their home patch is pretty tough, so I think it’s great to have a win”, said Player of the Match Alan Forsyth. “Even when we didn’t have the right tempo early on, we stuck at it and we sneaked a goal to settle us down. Winning away is very tough, especially coming to a place where we have never played before as a team, against the reigning Olympic champions. It’s a great win for the team and we can now step forward against Germany [in Mönchengladbach, GER] in a couple of weeks.”
Argentina’s women (WR:4) came into their meeting against reigning Olympic champions Great Britain (WR:2) as heavy favourites, having won four successive FIH Pro League matches without conceding a goal. The were certainly the better team in the opening period and could easily have been two goals ahead, with Maria Granatto swinging and missing from close range before seeing another effort cleared off the goal-line by British defender Giselle Ansley.
It seemed only a matter of time before Las Leonas took the lead, which they duly did four minutes before half time when Julieta Jankunas cracked an unstoppable backhand strike into the bottom right corner after a swift breakaway. Just two minutes later, Argentina’s lead – and goalkeeper Belen Succi’s remarkable four-and-a-half game, 234 minute run without conceding – came to an end thanks to a glorious penalty corner from Grace Balsdon, who sent an unstoppable drag-flick into the roof of the Argentine net to leave the sides level at the break.
The third quarter well and truly belonged to the home favourites, who scored two unanswered goals to open up a 3-1 lead. Jankunas scored her second backhand effort of the game before Victoria Zuloaga drilled a penalty corner strike against the GB backboard.
The result was put beyond all doubt with arguably the best goal of the game, Maria Granatto producing a brilliant deflection to float the ball over GB goalkeeper Nicola Cochrane after some magical set-up play down the right from Eugenia Trinchinetti. A cool finish from Great Britain’s Sarah Jones completed the scoring at 4-2, as Argentina moved to the top of the FIH Pro League standings for the first time.
“It was a difficult match, but I think we played very good”, said Player of the Match Julieta Jankunas, with team-mate Eugenia Trinchinetti acting as translator. “We did the things that we needed to do so we are very happy. The winning is very important for us. To play here [in Rosario] is a really beautiful atmosphere.”
The FIH Pro League continues on Sunday 7 April as Belgium’s women face China at the Royal Uccle Sports complex in Brussels. To see the complete match schedule, click here.
Keep up to date with all the latest news on the FIH Pro League via the event website and through FIH social media channels – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
FIH Pro League
6 April – Rosario, Argentina
Result: Men’s Match 23
Argentina 1, Great Britain 5
Player of the Match: Alan Forsyth (GBR)
Umpires: Jakub Mejzlik (CZE), Ben Goentgen (GER) & Alison Keogh (IRL – Video)
Result: Women’s Match 29
Argentina 4, Great Britain 2
Player of the Match: Julieta Jankunas (ARG)
Umpires: Laurine Delforge (BEL), Alison Keogh (IRL) & Jakub Mejzlik (CZE – Video