Great Britain beat Argentina 3-2 in third Olympic match
Great Britain 3 (2)
Helen Richardson-Walsh 23 25 (PC FG)
Sophie Bray 38 (FG)
Argentina 2 (0)
Florencia Habif 41 43 (FG PC)
Great Britain sealed their place in the Olympic quarter finals with a hard fought 3-2 win over world No2 Argentina. A brace from Helen Richardson-Walsh and one from Sophie Bray put Great Britain in the driving seat and despite a double from Florencia Habif and a missed penalty stroke from GB, Danny Kerry’s side saw the game out to secure the win and with it, a quarter final place.
The first quarter was tough going for both sides with a midfield battle ensuing as the two teams fought for a foothold in the game. Las Leonas had a gilt-edged opportunity early on. Delfina Merino was clean through but despite rounding Maddie Hinch, her shot thudded back off the woodwork. Great Britain defended well, keeping Las Leonas at bay with Hollie Webb, making her 100th international appearance looking her usual solid self in the back line. Argentina had a penalty corner chance just before the interval but Victoria Zuloaga slapped it wide and it stayed 0-0 going into the second quarter.
Great Britain started the second quarter brightly. Laura Unsworth tip-toed forwards into a good position and brought a sprawling clearance out of Belen Succi in the Argentina goal. Susannah Townsend started to cause the defence some problems with her direct, powerful running and with eight minutes gone in the quarter GB won a penalty corner. Kate Richardson-Walsh slid the ball in from the top of the circle with unerring accuracy to find a sliding Helen Richardson-Walsh to deflect in for the opening goal. With Argentina reeling, Danny Kerry’s side struck again. It was Helen Richardson-Walsh who applied the finish again, pouncing on a loose ball to stab in from close range. Argentina had an opportunity to pull one back with a penalty corner. Noel Barrionuevo took the shot and brought the best out of Hinch who got a good glove on the ball to make the save, protecting the lead at the break.
Las Leonas started the third quarter at a high tempo. Carla Rebecchi broke free in the circle and shot but Hinch was alert and palmed it away. At the other end Townsend set up Danson who found space and smashed a powerful low shot just wide of the far post. Giselle Ansley almost added another from a broken down penalty corner but it wasn’t long before GB had a third thanks to the poacher’s instincts of Bray.
On 41 minutes Argentina got on the board. Florencia Habif won possession high up the pitch, popped the ball into the circle and slammed it into the bottom corner for a well-taken solo goal. Just two minutes later the same player added a second from a penalty corner rebound, bringing Argentina right back into the contest.
The tension mounted in the final quarter with Great Britain reduced to nine players after cards for Bray and Townsend. Danny Kerry’s team weathered that storm and then after a foul on Danson they had a glorious chance to make the game safe from the penalty spot. Helen Richardson-Walsh stepped up looking for her hat-trick but Succi guessed right and made the save. Martina Cavallero forced Hinch into a good block at the other end and Argentina pressed Great Britain onto the back foot as they searched for an equaliser. All the Great Britain players were called into defensive action with Danson and Lily Owsley dropping deep and doing their part to hold the blue and white tide off. The team’s excellent defensive work completed the job and Great Britain’s three points confirmed their place in the quarter finals.
Great Britain’s next match is 12 August vs. USA at 00:30, live on BBC Sport
Helen Richardson-Walsh Great Britain Midfielder:
“We’re really pleased to get the three points. Argentina are a really good team so we expected them to come back. We tried not to concede the goals but it is what it is! We’re really pleased to get the job done in the end.”
“I’m annoyed about the stroke but pleased to get the goals I did get. Fortunately it didn’t cost us but hopefully I’ll save that goal for another game.”
“Argentina’s crowd are amazing. They brought a big contingent who was getting behind their team but actually that lifts us. They’re a good team who played some nice hockey but we’ll learn some lessons and take those forwards to the next round.”
“Today the atmosphere was amazing it was rocking today and it was against Australia. Our fans were amazing that night. It’s great when the crowds are in and enjoying it. We just need to give them something to cheer.”
“Beating a team like them gives us confidence but I don’t think we’re firing on all cylinders. At the start we felt comfortable which is good but this tournament is tough anything can happen in the quarter finals but we’re building momentum and hopefully we can use it. We like playing in the rain, it felt like home.”
photo Getty Images