Man of the match Liam Ansell described England’s Hockey Men’s World Cup win over Argentina as a “stellar performance” as Danny Kerry’s side came from behind to knock out the Olympic Champions in an absorbing encounter.
“We knew it would be a tough match, they have the number one corner threat in the tournament so stopping them was crucial.” said Ansell, who was a late call-up after injury ruled Sam Ward out of the tournament just days before the start.
England went into the game having not beaten Argentina in 20 years in any competition and not for 36 years at the World Cup. They trailed to Gonzalo Peillat’s fifth goal of the tournament in the 17th minute despite George Pinner getting a good connection on the No2’s drag flick.
The lead lasted ten minutes and it was the inspirational Barry Middleton who struck the equaliser, finding the bottom corner with a lovely strike just three minutes before the half-time break.
England lost Will Calnan to a yellow card and were forced to play on the back foot as Argentina tried to press home their numerical advantage. With Calnan restored to the field the villain turned hero, latching onto a mistake in the Argentina defence to slam home England’s second with just moments left in the third quarter.
Three minutes into the final quarter Peillat levelled things up from another penalty corner but England hit back immediately. Harry Martin kept his cool to slot in from close range a minute later to restore England’s lead.
“We knew if we waited for our opportunities, stopped them from getting on the front foot and blocked their corners we’d have a good chance.” Ansell told BT Sport.
“We’ve got a few young guys who have come in and shone during this tournament. We’ve been talking before games about our mentality going into it, being in the right headspace and it’s working.”
Despite a late flurry of pressure from Argentina, including a Peillat effort which Pinner saved in the dying seconds, England held on to reach their third World Cup semi-final in a row. They await the winner of Germany or Belgium in the last four on Saturday.