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Hockey World Cup: France shock Argentina in thriller

BHUBANESWAR: The last time France played Argentina in a World Cup match was in 1998. It was also their last World Cup appearance prior to this tournament. Much has changed since then.

Argentina are Olympic champions and ranked second in the world, while the French are the lowest ranked in the competition at 20. One thing that didn’t change though was the result. In their last meeting in Lahore, France had beaten Argentina 1-0. The result between the two side was the same in France’s debut in 1971 as well.

On Thursday, the unfancied French came up with an electric performance to stun Argentina 5-3 in the last Pool A clash. Argentina still topped the pool to get into the quarterfinals while France and New Zealand made the crossovers. In the process, Spain were ousted. The Spaniards were held to a 2-all draw by a never-say-die New Zealand side.

Spain needed Argentina to win or draw (5-all or less) to ensure their passage to the crossover stage, but the French clearly had other plans. Spanish coach Frederic Soyez, a Frenchman whose dream of playing the World Cup remained unfulfilled, was no doubt filled with mixed emotions during the 60 minutes of the stunning encounter.

French coach Jeroen Delmee’s men came up with a top-of-the-line show to turn the table on their fancied opponents in a goal-fest.

Coming off a barren first-half, France sent shockwaves in the Argentine camp as they slammed three goals in the span of eight minutes — through Hugo Genestet (18th minute), Victor Charlet (23 ) and Aristide Coisne.

Lucas Martinez managed to pull one back (28th minute) and the French responded with Gaspard Baumgarten (30th minute) ensuring his team went into the break with a 4-1lead. Ganzalo Peillat struck a brace off penalty corners (44, 48) for Argentina, but Charlet & Co were not done yet. They finished the run with Francois Goyet (54th minute) adding his name to the scoresheet.

New Zealand hold Spain

With New Zealand down 0-2 and less than 10 minutes to go, coach Darren Smith decided to take a gamble and replace goalkeeper Richard Joyce with a kicking back. Even as Joyce prepared for the exit, Hayden Phillips found the spot under the cross bar off a pass from Hugo Inglis to signal his team’s comeback. For the next six minutes, New Zealand attacked with 11 people on the field and earned a penalty corner which was converted by Kane Russell.

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