Buenos Aires, Apr. 12: Harmanpreet Singh scored a goal with a powerful dragflick with only 25 seconds left on the clock, changing the course of their FIH Pro League match against Olympic champions Argentina. The goal, Harmanpreet’s second of the match, helped India hold Argentina 2-2 in regulation time and in the subsequent penalty shootout, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh came up with three impressive saves to earn India a bonus point.
Argentina seemed set to take full points as they led 2-1 with merely seconds left for the final hooter, but captain Manpreet Singh earned a penalty-corner that was converted by Harmanpreet.
In the penalty shootout, Lalit Upadhyay, Rupinder Pal Singh and Dilpreet Singh were on target while Sreejesh made three saves as India won the shootout 3-2.
With this result, India move ahead of Argentina up to fifth in the FIH Hockey Pro League standings, with 12 points from seven matches. Argentina are sixth with 11 points from 11 games.
In an engrossing contest between two evenly-matched teams, Harmanpreet gave India the lead in the 21st minute with a superbly executed penalty corner before a quickfire double from Martin Ferreiro (28th, 30th minutes) put Argentina 2-1 up at half-time.
Desperate for a win after losing to Germany in the double-header last week, Argentina were resolute in their efforts while India worked the yards, vying for the elusive goal.
Pressure mounted on India in the dying minutes of the match with two key players — Varun Kumar and Mandeep Singh — sitting out after being shown a yellow card.
Argentina held on to their lead until the dying seconds of the match, when Harmanpreet stepped up to the mark to tie the scores with a second-phase penalty-corner for the visitors, who were playing their first Pro League match after more than a year.
The draw guaranteed a point each for the two teams, and brilliant goalkeeping by Sreejesh gave India the bonus point. Sreejesh denied Lucas Vila, Martin Ferreiro and Ignacio Ortiz before Dilpreet Singh sealed the win for India with a cool finish against veteran goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi.
Harmanpreet was declared the Player of the Match.-Agencies