Friday, August 10, 2012

Netherlands vs Argentina, Olympics 2012 Women's Hockey Gold medal match

The final of the women's Hockey tournament at the London Olympics 2012 sees the top two ranked nations in the world battle it out for the Gold and Silver medals. A This is the seventh match these two sides will have played in just under two weeks and there will be considerable pressure on both of them.

Earlier, Great Britain and New Zealand played in the Bronze medal match with Great Britain coming out on top 3-1. That game was end to end stuff but all four corners came from penalty corners. Going into the game there was some concern that New Zealand might be a little tired after playing extra time and taking part in the shoot out but there was no evidence of that.

Tonight, we will see two sides who have peaked at the right time. Netherlands come into this game, number one in the world rankings, unbeaten in this tournament and the only side to really push them close to a defeat were New Zealand two days ago in the semi-final. That match went to extra time and eventually to the new shoot out which proved to be extremely entertaining for everyone bar the players and their coaching teams.

Argentina had a very different tournament. They dropped points against Australia, were pushed hard by New Zealand and lost to the USA. In the semi-final against Great Britain, they went through 2-1 at the end of normal time. Tonight they will not get as much time on the ball as Great Britain afforded them and they will find the game running at a much higher pace.

One that may add extra impetus for Argentina is that this is Aymar's birthday and the best player in women's hockey has won everything bar an Olympic medal. What a day it would turn out to be if she fixed that here.

Both sides have key players. For Argentina much will depend on how Aymar in the midfield and Rebecchi up front play. The key for Netherlands will be Paumen in defence and Lammers in attack. the rest of the two sides are fairly evenly matched until we come to penalty corners. Argentina has struggled so far in this tournament but were more successful against Great Britain. Netherlands will expect to score regularly off any penalty corners they are awarded.

First Half
Netherlands get the first long corner of the game and follow that up with a free hit outside the Argentine D. Paumen drives in, gets the ball onto the goalkeeper but Mutio manages to prevent it going in. Netherlands on the attack again and the cut back onto the penalty spot from Van As finds only Argentine players who get the ball clear.

Another Netherlands attack and this time the ball is hit harmlessly off the back line. Argentina are finally getting their tackles in and can now come forward with the ball. Rebecchi can't stop it running off the back line as she gets into the Netherlands 23m.

Van As brings it forward and there is a delightful one-two with Jonker. The ball is in the Argentine D but goes out of play. Argentina to restart. There is a lot of noise in the crowd between the two sets of supporters.

Argentina on the attack now with a free hit outside the Netherlands D. Well defended and its a series of long corners. Argentina try something different and bring the ball around the back. A good run into the D  by Habib and then Merino bring a penalty corner chance for Argentina. Good strike  by Barrionuevo goes just wide.

Netherlands get a hit outside the Argentine D through De Goede. Paumen on the ball, the cross into the D is easily picked up by Aymar and she gets the free hit. Ball played long, but aimlessly, down to the Netherlands end of the pitch.

Nice build up by Netherlands in the midfield. They seem to be winning the ball far too easily in this part of the pitch. the chance is wasted and Argentina are looking for a long ball to an unmarked Cavallero. the ball comes off her foot, however, and Netherlands take the chance to build another attack.

Van As again in the midfield and Hoog has the ball but wastes it. Another wasted long ball by Argentina. Netherlands are reading these long passes and getting in first on the tackle.

Free hit Argentina but the long pass goes through the D. more wasted ball. If Argentina keep doing this they will just keep letting Netherlands off the hook. Paumen takes a lifted ball on the forearm but she is OK.

Argentine defence at sixes and sevens as Netherlands come on the attack but they manage to scramble the ball clear and can now begin to build an attack of their own but the ball is wastefully played over the side line.

Aymar takes the ball too deep into the D and the shot is easily saved by Sombroek. From the long corner, Argentina just can't make anything happen.

The game seems to be settling into a pattern now. End to end attacking but neither side really doing anything to stress the goalkeeper. This time Rebecchi gets into the D but puts the ball wide and high.

Aerial ball gets through to an unmarked Netherlands player but the pass goes to an Argentine stick.

This is a very nervy start from both teams. Some poor decisions, poor passing and lack of real penetration. Another Argentine attack breaks down without a shot on goal.

Van As brings it forward but is easily dispossessed. Netherlands win it back and look to go down the left. Once again, the tackle is all too easy for the Argentine defense. The ball is played deep into the corner but runs off the end of the pitch.

Big hit in from Netherlands but it is easily kicked away by Mutio. Polkamp drives down the side line and wins the long corner. This time the drive into the D is lost and Argentina reset but waste the chance to create an attack. Ball into the Argentine D from Hoog and Scarone has taken a hit in the face from a stick on the follow through. She has a cut just under the eye. Can Argentina use this to spark themselves into action?

Netherlands have a side line hit. Van As drives into the D and wins a penalty corner from a clumsy stick tackle by Rodriguez Perez. Great running from Rodriguez Perez and the penalty corner doesn't even produce a shot on goal.

Aymar trying to start something from the centre of the Argentine midfield. Netherlands just playing the press and Argentina are going nowhere. Van As has the ball, it is move around the pitch and a great ball in is just cut out by an Argentine stick for a long corner. Netherlands can't do anything with the restart and Argentina has the ball back.

Maccari is tripped by Goderie who is given a green card. Can Argentina take advantage of this two minute power play? The long aerial ball goes out and Netherlands will look to keep the ball as much as possible for the next two minutes. Welten goes down the right but runs into the Argentine defense and losses the ball.

Netherlands soon have the ball back and Van Male runs down the right but has no-one in the D to cross to. Van As now tries and gets the ball into the D but the shot is wasted.

Good cross in but nobody could get on the end of that. Argentina starting to pose problems for the Netherlands defense.

Great running by Van As and Van Male but the interception by the Argentine defense is hit onto a foot. Netherlands have a penalty corner and the hooter has gone. This is the last play of the half and Mutio makes a great glove save from De Goede and then a second with her pads as Van As shoots from the rebound.

Second Half
Scarone has been patched up and starts the second half. Argentina has the ball and the Netherlands content to let them move it around in their half of the pitch. Ball forward by Aymar runs off the side. Netherlands can now look to build something but they give it away. Van Geffen is forced away from the D but gets a side line ball.

Lots of missed tackles and the air rings with the clicking of what sounds like giant knitting needles.

Excellent chance for Netherlands but Van Den Heuvel is unable to keep the ball in play. Argentina win a hit for a challenge on Merino and are inside the Netherlands 23m.

Ball comes away with Van As and Hoog but is lost inside the Argentine 23m

This half seems to have started where the first half left off, too many balls lost too easily when in the opponents 23m. Netherlands trying to up the pace but it's not working. Van Male drives to the D but it is brought away by Aymar. So far Aymar is the best player out there but she is not getting the support she needs from the rest of her team.

Netherlands look like they are content to play on the break. This is normally a dangerous option against Argentina but it does seem to be working here. It's denying Argentina the space in which to run and stopping them getting into the Netherlands D.

While Netherlands sitting deep is nullifying the Argentine attack, it is not making for a very attractive game for the spectators. This is a poor game compared to the Bronze medal match where Great Britain and New Zealand went end-to-end, creating chances.

A mistake gives Jonker an opportunity to run at the Argentine defense. This brings a penalty corner and the Argentine players want a video referral for something that happened in the middle of the field which cannot happen under the rules.

Great drag flick from De Goede is met with a good save from Mutio. Unfortunately the ball drops at the feet of Van Den Heuvel who makes no mistake with the rebound.

Netherlands 1 Argentina 0

This should now open up the match as Argentina must come forward and that will create chances for Netherlands.

Argentina win a penalty corner and can strike back quickly. The ball is miss hit and Netherlands quickly push to the other end of the pitch and win a long corner. Ball is cleared by Argentina.

That was a sloppy tackle by Sruoga which give Netherlands another penalty corner. Perhaps a little too intricate from Netherlands but Mutio is up to it and gets the ball clear. Another penalty corner for more sloppy defending.

THAT WAS UNSTOPPABLE. An amazing drag flick from Paumen and there is probably no goalkeeper in the world who could have stopped that.

Netherlands 2 Argentina 0

Argentina need to up the stakes here and Aymar is having to do it all on her own. Argentina need to get into the Netherlands D and force a save from Sombroek. But yet again, the attack breaks down and Netherlands have time to ease the ball out. This time, they make the mistake and Argentina are on the attack.

Great tackle, Netherlands charge forward but the ball is knocked away for a long corner. Just over 12 minutes left to play and Netherlands fancy their chances at getting another goal. They are no longer prepared to sit back and are putting the Argentine defense under pressure. D'Elia picks up a stupid green card at a time when Argentina need everyone on the pitch. Aymar must be furious at her team mates.

With nine minutes left, Argentina are in danger of meltdown if they don't focus on getting back into the game rather than picking arguments with Netherlands and the umpires.

Netherlands in complete control now. When Argentina do get the ball, they lose it too easily or take the wrong option on the pass.

If there were ever any fears that the Netherlands might be tired after their semi-final match against New Zealand, the way they are running and moving at this stage of the game should dispel that. Netherlands come again but cannot control the ball in the D and it is an Argentine hit.

Once again, Argentina get the free hit, bring the ball away and then lose it too easily to Netherlands.Once again, it is Aymar who is trying to make something happen but there is nobody looking for the pass or making themselves available.

There is still time to force two goals and square the match but Argentina don't look like they are going to do that. When they come forward again, the ball is aimlessly hit into the D. The only person who thinks they can do something now is their coach who is urging them on from the side.

Just over one minute, Netherlands have the ball and Argentina are just making up the numbers. The Netherlands supporters in the stadium are applauding their team now. They know the job is done and that's the countdown for the last ten seconds. The Netherlands players are celebrating and rightly so. They were the better not only on the night but throughout the entire tournament.

The first half was a pretty dull affair. Although both teams got into their opponents 23m, the only real quality shots came from Netherlands. Mutio kept Argentina in the match in the first half but nerves seemed to have gotten to both sides. Both sides knew that if they allowed the other to score first, it would be hard to get back into the game.

The second half started very much like the first. Netherlands sat back, invited Argentina forward but picked them off in the midfield and around the edge of the D. The turning point was two penalty corner goals for Netherlands. After the first one, Argentina looked like they were going to come forward and get a goal of their own. But after the second goal went in, Argentine heads went down and it was all over.

Netherlands shut Argentina down and played by far the better hockey. Paumen scored a goal that was worthy of a gold medal match and will probably be player of the match. For Argentina, while Aymar didn't have her best game, it was so much better than the rest of her team who need to take a long hard look at themselves and ask what went wrong

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