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India beat Argentina 3-2, take 2-0 lead

January 20, 2009 13:12 IST

India registered their second successive win, defeating Argentina 3-2 in the keenly-contested second hockey Test at the Estadio Panamericano in Mar del Plata (Argentina) on Tuesday to take a 2-0 lead in the four-match series.

India, who made a comeback to international hockey after almost a year, beat Argentine 2-1 in the first Test on Monday. 

Centre-forward Shivendra Singh (12th min), Prabhjot Singh (40th min) and captain Sandeep Singh (59th min) scored the goals for the visitors while Mario Almada (13th) and Pedro Ibarra (46th) found the net for Argentina.

Eight-time Olympic champions, India, started from where they left on Monday and launched a flurry of attacks on the Argentine goal from the word go.

Indian forward line of Prabhjot, last match's goal scorer Deepak Thakur and Shivendra continuously unnerved the experienced Argentine defence with frequent raids while Tushar Khandker was exemplary on the left flank. 

As early as in the fourth minute, India had a chance of taking the lead but Argentina goalkeeper Juan Manuel Vivaldi saved Shivendra's deflection from a Prabhjot set up. 

For the second consecutive day, the Indian mid-fielders and linkmen Vikram Pillay, Rajpal Singh and VS Vinaya were outstanding at their work, setting up the forwards with accurately measured passes.

The constant pressure on the Argentina goal finally bore fruit in the 12th minute when Shivendra deflected home from a Sandeep set piece to give India a 1-0 lead after Argentine medio Tomas Argento obstructed Thakur just outside the box. 

However, the lead was shortlived as the hosts equalised in the very next minute through wily Almada who was lurking dangerously around the Indian striking circle and was quick to wrong foot the Indian defence.

Minutes later, Thakur nearly put India ahead from a beautifully worked out sortie. Rajpal Singh orchestrated the move to set up Khandker, who in tandem with Prabhjot, dribbled past Argentine full backs Lopez and Ibarra to find Thakur, but custodian Vivaldi once again came to Argentina's rescue foiling the striker's attempt.

The hosts too were nippy in their attacks and forced two penalty corners in quick succession but squandered both. 

In the 30th minute, India got a golden opportunity to surge ahead but Shivendra fumbled with only Argentine goalkeeper Vivaldi to beat. 

Minutes before the half time, Khandker ensured that both the teams were locked at 1-1 at the half time with a goal line save after Argentina was awarded a shot corner following Sandeep's deliberate stick check. 

India came out all guns blazing in the second half to regain the lead in the 40th minute off a counter attack set by Shivendra. Exhibiting classy baseline control and skills, Prabhjot and Khandker initiated the move and zeroed in before the former found the target to give the visitors 2-1.

Six minutes later the Indian's paid the price for their over aggression when Matias Rey stole the ball from Rajpal and sent a long overhead to unmarked Lucas Vila who took full advantage of Indian defender's casual attitude to set it up for Ibarra who made no mistake in levelling the scores. 

In a bid to wrest the initiative, the contest turned fast and furious but skipper Sandeep eventually came up with the winner off a penalty corner in 59th minute when his powerful drag-flick convincingly beat Argentina custodian Vivaldi. 

Although, Argentina tried hard to equalise, Indian defence stood their guard to thwart any last minute hiccup. 

The third Test between the two sides will be played on Wednesday.

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