Investec World League Pool A: Argentina 3-2 China.

Carla Rebecchi’s 69th minute strike, her second of the match, got Argentina out of jail as they claimed their second win from two matches in the Investec World League. Las Leonas had taken a two goal lead at halftime however second half goals from Mengyu Wang and Hongxia Li almost stole a point for the Chinese. 

Argentina totally dominated the first half with Luciana Aymar causing havoc every time she had the ball, often taking three or four defenders to halt her progress. Yimeng Zhang was called into the action early on to keep out a Silvinia D’Elia penalty corner and a shot from the top of the D from Martina Cavallero.

It was clear that China were struggling to deal with the pace and movement of the Argentine forwards as time and again the Olympic Silver medallists threatened from wide areas.

It took just twelve minutes for Las Leonas to break the deadlock. A well worked penalty corner resulted in Rosario Luchetti sliding in to deflect the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net, her second goal in as many games.

Argentina kept up the pressure, Gabriela Luduena crept forward on the right to pull down an aerial and shoot from the right of the D, but her effort was kicked clear by Zhang. With eight minutes to go in the half, Rebecchi made it 2-0. A lovely piece of skill to break into the D where she lashed the ball into the net giving the goalkeeper no chance.

China finally managed to force a penalty corner, Wang’s high flick was brilliantly saved by Maria Mutio diving to her right.

In the second half, Argentina seemed to take the foot off the gas. China hauled themselves back into the match in the 42nd minute as Li showed good composure to score from close range.

Minutes later, China could have had an equaliser. Yang Peng had time and space and hit a fierce shot towards the bottom the corner which was superbly saved by Mutio at full stretch to her left. Mutio had to be alert again as Yan Yan hit another shot which the goalkeeper saved with her chest and then cleared.

China seemed to be growing in confidence and the 61st minute their pressure paid off as Wang beat Mutio low to her right with a precise drag flick.

With time running out and the game seemingly headed for a draw there was one last twist, Rocio Sanchez Moccia showed no little skill and determination to get round the back on the left, there was a scramble at the near post, before the ball broke to Rebecchi. The Argentina No.11 made no mistake and fired home to give her side the win.

It was tough on China who had worked hard to draw themselves back level. For Argentina, despite their first half dominance, they will feel they got off the hook somewhat. Still, two wins from two games is no more than they could have asked for.

About thetopofthed

Columnist for The Hockey Paper and the man behind The Top of the D. Writer, podcaster, goalkeeper and BBC Sport man. Used to work for Great Britain Hockey and have covered the sport at every major tournament.
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