Olympics champs Argentina down gritty Spain in a thriller
Bhubaneswar, November 29
Day 2 surpassed the opening day in the number of goals scored, all thanks to a thrilling high-scoring encounter between two teams known for their tight defending. The second day’s first encounter was expected to be a low-scoring match, with both Argentina and Spain known for playing a defensive, counter-attacking game. But the possibility of a goalless draw went out of the question within three minutes, when Spain struck a surprising blow. Enrique Gonzalez, the best player of the 2016 Junior World Cup, finished a quick move after an interception in the Argentine half.
Argentina’s plan of easing into their World Cup opener with a few minutes of warming up was quickly dashed. Spain’s aggressive start shook them. They hit back instantly, Agustin Mazzilli equalising within a minute. It was scary to see the ease and swiftness with which Argentina changed gear.
They fell back again in the 14th minute to a Josep Romeu strike, but that was the last time they trailed. Argentina scored two in the next minute, Mazzilli getting the equaliser again, and Gonzalo Peillat scoring the first of his two drag-flicking goals. The world’s deadliest drag-flicker’s strike went in through the goalkeeper’s pads and back out off the backboard even before Quico Cortez could join his legs.
Spain equalised in the 35th minute through Vicenc Ruiz, but Peillat put Argentina ahead 11 minutes from the end. If anyone doubted Argentina’s place among the pre-tournament favourites at the start of the match, the end showed why the gritty South Americans, who have developed a habit for winning, are the reigning Olympics champions.