Argentina was stunned as a three-minute Dutch blitzkrieg struck it to snatch all three points in the second match of the FIH Pro League on Thursday. With a 3-1 win, the hosts, the Netherlands, finished with a maximum of six points from two games against the Pan American champions Argentina.
Argentina took the lead after Agustin Mazilli played a lovely ball into the circle and Martin Ferreira was able to send a reverse shot past Pirmin Blaak in the Dutch goal.
Going into the half-time break, Argentina looked more comfortable. Unlike the previous day’s encounter, Its defence looked stronger and in control and the goal from Ferreira had given the team a cushion.
However, the home team that trooped off the pitch at half-time came back with a renewed vigour and a sense of attacking purpose that swiftly paid dividends.
First, Jonas de Geus was able to deflect home a penalty corner. This gave the host nation attacking momentum and 60 seconds later Steijn van Heijningen scored his first international goal. It is one that will be long remembered by both the player and the spectators. Van Heijningen took the ball wide to the left and at the very edge of the Argentina circle, before unleashing a shot that flew past Tomas Santiago’s left shoulder.
The third goal was tame in comparison but vital to give the home team a comfortable lead. Koen Bijen latched onto a ball that was threaded into the circle. He then dinked it over the keeper to give his team a 3-1 lead.
That lead deserved to be extended in the final minute of the third quarter as Terrance Pieters and Derck de Vilder wove their way through the Argentina defence with a neat series of passes. It showed a level of understanding between the two players that belied their relatively few number of caps.
No further goals were scored although Argentina’s Nicolas della Torre will rue some missed penalty corner opportunities as Argentina really piled on the pressure in the final quarter.
Player of the Match Joep de Mol (the Netherlands) said: ‘The win was good but the three points were more important. We played well but went 1-0 down. We picked it up in the second half. We attacked the circle far more and with far more aggression in the second half.’
The result means that Argentina are third in the FIH Hockey Pro League at the end of its campaign. The Netherlands move to the fifth spot with eight matches still to play.
Netherlands 3, Argentina 1
Player of the Match: Joep de Mol (the Netherlands)