Buenos Aires: Germany continued their fine recent run of form in the FIH Hockey Pro League with a 3-2 away victory over Olympic champions Argentina in Buenos Aires. It was a different story in the women’s match, with Argentina winning a shoot-out against Germany to take two points from a possible three in Las Leonas’s first competitive match for over a year, reports FIH here on Saturday.
The action began in the men’s competition, where a wonderful moment of improvisation from Constantin Staib late on gave Germany men a hard-earned 3-2 triumph over the hots. The result sees Die Honamas – who are targeting a fifth successive Olympic podium finish when they take part in the re-scheduled Tokyo 2020 Games later this year – move up to third in the FIH Hockey Pro League standings, adding another three points to the six that they claimed against the Netherlands in Amsterdam last month.
Germany twice held the lead thanks to strikes from Christopher Rühr and debutant Luis Gill, only for prolific penalty corner expert Jose Tolini to pull his team level on each occasion. The decisive moment arrived with just four minutes of the match remaining, with Staib collecting the ball with his back to goal before squeezing a shot between his own legs and into the bottom left corner of the net.
Germany’s Mats Grambusch, who was named Player of the Match and played a pivotal role in setting up Staib’s outrageous winning goal, said: “To be honest, the [Best Player] Award isn’t that important for me. What is important for me is the three points that we go today in a very, very tough match. I’m happy about that. We only arrived four days ago, and what with the jet lag, being used to winter in Germany and not used to these temperatures, all in all we are really happy that we had a performance like this today.”
Argentina goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi said: “It was out first game in a long time, so I think it was a tough game for us, but it was a good feeling to be on the pitch again. We are growing, and tomorrow we hope to improve our on our mistakes today.”
A CAGGEY AFFAIR: The women’s contest between Argentina and Germany was a cagey affair, with both teams struggling to create clear-cut goal-scoring opportunities in the opening two periods. The match opened up in the third and fourth quarters, with Argentina captain Delfina Merino having a goal ruled out before Germany’s Nike Lorenz missed a glorious chance to win the game from the penalty spot late on.
A 0-0 draw ensured that both teams would take a point from the contest, but it was the hosts who would steal the bonus point. Merino scored the decisive goal, but it was the goalkeeping of debutant Clara Baberi – who replaced regular shot-stopper Belen Succi for the shoot-out – that proved invaluable. Baberi conceded just twice from Germany’s five attempts, setting things up perfectly for the vastly experienced Merino to seal additional point as Las Leonas strengthened their grip on second place in the FIH Hockey Pro League standings.
“It was a hard game”, said Argentina’s Julieta Jankunas, who was named Player of the Match. “We are very happy that we won. Germany are a really good team, so we kept two points and are now waiting for tomorrow to win again.”
Germany’s Nike Lorenz said: “I think we definitely have to get more results in the circle. Our defence was really good I think, so we need to keep working like that and just score some goals.”