Two goals from Argentina’s Carla Rebecchi, the second of which with just 24 seconds left on the clock gave Las Leonas the third place in this competition as they edged out China by three goals to two.
The game had looked set for a penalty shootout as goals from Meiyu Liang and Hongxia Li with her seventh of the competition had tied the game up at 2-2. However, Rebecchi had other ideas.
Argentina came out determined to bounce back from their defeat to England in last night’s game. Rosario Luchetti laid a lovely pass off to Rocio Sanchez Moccia early on but the No.17 was wide with her reverse stick shot.
Luciana Aymar was looking threatening as she glided forwards looking for an opening. She thought she’d found the first goal but her low shot went just wide.
China were under pressure but weathering the storm well. Luchetti showed excellent strength to break two tackles on the edge of the D but as with the previous shots, she could only hit wide of the target.
China created their first clear opening late on in the half but Yan Yan’s shot from a tight angle was dealt with by Maria Mutio.
It took Las Leonas just six minutes of the second half to break the deadlock. Having seen Noel Barrionuevo frustrated by defence and goalkeeper from the previous penalty corners, Rebecchi stepped up. She beat goalkeeper Ji Li to her right with an unerring finish.
Yang Peng almost grabbed an equaliser with a smart turn and shot which hit the side netting. Mengyu Wang and then Sinan Sun both had penalty corners well saved by Mutio as China put Las Leonas under pressure. On 58 minutes, China tried a different penalty corner. Wang fired the ball in low where it was expertly deflected in by Li, maintaining her place as the competition’s top scorer.
Three minutes later it was 2-1. Sanchez Moccia hit a superb shot which was well saved by Li in the China goal and the rebound was slotted in by Aymar.
Four minutes later China drew level again. A mistake in the Argentina defence was seized upon by Li who fed Liang, the No.28 needed no second invitation and fizzed the ball home for 2-2.
Li saved a Barrionuevo penalty corner and it looked like we were set for a penalty shootout. However, with just seconds left on the clock, Rebecchi picked up a loose ball, drove into the D and shot towards the far corner. Li should have dealt with the strike but seemed to get her feet caught and the ball went in to give Argentina the win.
Las Leonas may have anticipated being in the final, but they celebrated winning this one as though it was for first place and not third. China can count themselves unlucky but in the end, Argentina just would not give in.