Brave Great Britain comeback cut short by world champions
Argentina vs Great Britain 2-1 (half-time: 2-0)
Argentina kept alive their dream of a maiden Olympic gold medal as first half goals from Noel Barrionuevo and Carla Rebecchi proved just enough to dash Great Britain’s hopes of home glory. The hosts threw everything they had at the south Americans in the second half but they lacked the finishing finesse to complete one of their numerous chances, Alex Danson’s goal finally coming with just five minutes left but with not enough time left to effect an equaliser.
The raucous atmosphere was at its peak in front of a star-studded audience that featured Dame Kelly Holmes and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. They witnessed an intense battle with few quarters given and plenty of bruises likely to be felt in the aftermath.
Argentina were 2-0 up at the break as Barrionuevo scored from the half’s only penalty corner in the fifth minute, awarded after Josefina Sruoga’s piece of trickery. The second came just before the break when Luciana Aymar cruised around a string of would-be tacklers on the left sideline.
She laid the ball through to Carla Rebecchi who had too much pace for the last defender and tricked Beth Storry on the baseline with minimal room to manouvere. The goalkeeper collided with the striker who incredibly managed to take the ball around eyes on the ball and enough balance to poke the ball home. GB argued long and hard for what they felt was an infringement on halfway but the umpire waved away referral calls, the recourse to video only allowed for incidents inside the 25.
Aymar, for the most part, was double-teamed but she managed to cut loose on a number of occasions. For Britain, they enjoyed decent possession and Alex Danson clattered the outside of the goal on her reverse. Into the second half, GB upped their level considerably and began to find some joy.
Crista Cullen saw her one drag-flick shot blocked away by Macarena Rodriguez Perez but other efforts from Ashleigh Ball, Hannah Macleod and Helen Richardson were snatched at and went a begging without testing Florencia Mutio.
Richardson did pick out Danson with a pin-point cross and the diminutive striker slid in perfectly to guide home and raise the noise levels ever further. But no last chance came to level came as Argentina played it smart and could have killed the tie off from a couple of break-outs.
But the final berth was secure, setting up a repeat of the 2010 World Cup in Rosario with Aymar assured of a fourth Olympic medal. They will face old nemesis the Netherlands, an opposition coach Carlos Retegui described as the "El Clasico" of women's hockey
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