India pip Argentina 3-2 to finish third

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Monchengladbach, Apr 17 (UNI) Rajpal Singh scored a brace as India survived a late second session scare to pip Argentina 3-2 for their first win and to finish third in the four nation hockey tournament here today.

India who had lost to Germany 1-4 and Spain 3-5, salavaged their reputation by winning the last match to end the tournament with three points.

For the winners, who led 3-0 at half time, Sandeep Singh(11th, Rajpal Singh (18th, 25th) were the scorers. Paulon (61st) and Maccormick (66th) scored a goal each for the losers.

Once again it was goalkeeper Bharat Cheteri who saved India's blushes as he stood between victory and Argentina. The custodian pulled off some excellent saves which enabled India to chalk out their only win of the tourney.

India looked in comfortable position having setup a 3-0 lead by half time but the Latin America champions came back strongly and rattled their rival's defence scoring two goals within a span of five minutes.

Indians were distinctly lucky to have survived tha late charge by their rivals who muffed up a penalty corner and then a clear goal on the 'death'.

Argentina tested the Indian defence soon after the match started as they forced a penalty corner in the eighth minute but Chetri brought off a good save.

Indians launched a furious counter attack and forced a penalty corner in the 11th minute, Sandeep Singh's drag flick hit a defender and got deflected into the goal(1-0) Rattled by the sudden goal, Argentina launched counter attacks but Indian goal survived as the rival strikers Callioni, Ibarra and Garetta muffed up the chances.

In the 18th minute a tearing counter attack by Indians created panic in rival circle as Khandekar set up a good opening for Rajpal who made no mistakes in sending the ball home (2-0). Seven minutes later the Indian team increased their tally when Rajpal deflected the ball home following a free hit(3-0).

Indians had a chance to take their tally further up but Arjun Halappa missed a sitter in the 29th minute.

There was no let up by the Indians as the second session began but their forwards could not translate the openings into the goals.

After being under pressure for 10 minutes Argentina counter attacked and Indian defence came under pressure and showed signs of cracking up. Cammareri and Callioni made few incisive moves which earned their side a penalty corner but Retegui's shot was superbly saved by Chetri.

Indians had a great chance to score following a counter attack but Arjun Halappa once again missed an opening created by Tejbir.

The Argentina counter attack fetched them a stroke following a melee in the circle. Though Chetri saved Retegui's scope but on the rebound Paulon shot home (1-3). This happened in the 61st minute and then five minutes later it became 2-3 when following another penalty corner Retegui relayed the ball to Maccormick who shot home.

Argentina then missed a good chance to equalise in the dying minutes of the game and Indian heaved a sigh of relief as the final hooter was sounded.

MORE UNI XC PM HSB PG RN1914

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