Argentina and Spain will meet in fifth-place play-off at the Men’s Junior Hockey World Cup in Lucknow after overcoming the respective challenges of England and The Netherlands today.
Pan American champions Argentina were in excellent form in the first of the fifth to eighth play-off matches, cruising to a 3-0 win over England at the Major Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium.
Following a goalless first-half, Argentina took the lead five minutes after the restart thanks to a smart finish from Nicolas Acosta following a powerful run and pass down the right from Agustin Rios.
Fifteen minutes later, Acosta went from goalscorer to provider with a perfect pass across the face of goal for Ignacio Nepote, who tapped in from close range.
Argentina captain Maico Casella completed the scoring nine minutes from the end of the match, driving down the right and entering the circle before producing an outrageous chipped finish over onrushing England goalkeeper Chris Wyver.
"We are so happy because we played very good today," said Casella.
Asked about his goal, he added: "I am pleased with it, but the most important thing is that the team won, so I’m very happy right now."
Spain captain Enrique Gonzalez impressed again with a man of the match performance as his side claimed a hard-fought 2-1 victory over The Netherlands.
Llorenc Piera Grau opened the scoring in the 30th minute, sliding in to force home from close range and put Spain 1-0 ahead.
Lucas Garcia Alcalde then made it 2-0 with a backhand strike that would prove to be decisive.
The Netherlands were much improved in the second period but still struggled to make an impact against their European rivals.
A moment of individual brilliance from Jorrit Croon in the 64th minute did pull the Dutch back into the contest.
However, it was not enough to save them from defeat.
In the ninth-place play-off, South Africa were defeated 4-1 by New Zealand, with man of the match Mark Wilcox scoring two early goals to help his team on their way to victory.
Brad Reid and Dylan Thomas also scored in a dominant first-half performance, with Courtney Halle scoring South Africa’s only goal of the game two minutes after half-time.
Austria produced a valiant fightback in their 11th-place play-off match against Malaysia, only to be denied in a shoot-out.
Mohamad Zulhamizan and Aiman Nik Rosemi established a 2-0 lead for Malaysia after just 14 minutes, but goals either side of half-time from Oliver Binder and Peter Kaltenböck levelled the contest.
Malaysia went onto edge the shoot-out 2-1 and seal victory.
Tomorrow’s action sees first-time finalists Belgium and hosts India, the 2001 title winners, battle it out in the gold medal match.
It will be preceded by England’s match with The Netherlands in the seventh-place play-off, Argentina’s clash with Spain in the fifth-place play-off and Germany’s meeting with Australia in the bronze medal match.