Argentina again the bridesmaids after titanic tussle at the Riverbank Arena
Gold Medal Match: Netherlands vs Argentina 2-0 (half-time: 0-0)
The Netherlands painted the Riverbank Arena orange as they emulated the feat of four years ago in Beijing, winning the Olympic final 2-0 having been locked at 0-0 at the interval. That time it was China in Beijing; this time around, Argentina were the victims of a truly dominant performance after the break in London that did the damage as the South Americans could struggled to gain enough possession to cause a threat after an even first half showing could not separate the sides.
Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel put the Netherlands in front with a sharp penalty corner rebound from Eva de Goede’s low drag-flick before Maartje Paumen provided the games enduring image. Goal-less throughout the group stages, she fired two vital semi-final goals and her second killed off any Argentine hope. The manner in which she did it was suitably spectacular, picking out the top corner with a truly thunderous drag-flick. From there, the Dutch were never likely to offer up a lifeline and they played out the closing quarter with the constant support of the orange hordes in the stands.
It left Carlos Retegui and his side devastated after another near miss, their fourth successive medal but the gold still eludes. Among their number was Luciana Aymar whose silver makes her Argentina’s greatest ever-female Olympian and the first woman to medal in four Olympic hockey tournaments. But her 35thbirthday will remain a bitter memory as she was consoled at length by her team-mates.
Chances were at a premium in the first half as both sides probed for openings but the two defences were on top for the most part. In a rousing opening, the Dutch did get two early sights, Eva de Goede’s reverse and a Naomi Van As baseline run wreaking havoc with Jonker hovering around in front of Florencia Mutio’s goalmouth.
Delfina Merino and Florencia Habif combined to win the first corner that Noel Barrionuevo fired wide and Rosario Lucchetti reversed over from another decent chance. Late in the half, the pendulum swung back the Dutch direction but they were unable to cash in on either of their penalty corners, charging one Maartje Paumen flick down while her second, on the half-time hooter, rebounded to Van As but her near post shot was comfortably stopped by Mutio.
The second half was more clear-cut, however, as the Dutch earned a string of corners. From the fourth, the Dutch went ahead though Argentina felt they should have had a free in the build-up, arguing at length, though any review was barred as their claims fell outside the 25-metre line.
Dirkse van der Heuvel duly popped in the rebound from the subsequent corner. Argentina did respond immediately, earning their only corner of the half but Silvina D’Elia’s effort was charged down, allowing the Dutch to counter at pace. And soon after, Paumen had her moment, going past Alyson Annan’s prior record of 13 Olympic goals in the most emphatic way possible, taking gold with it.
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