By Daniel Leussink
TOKYO (Reuters) -Reigning Olympic champions Argentina reached the quarter-finals of the Tokyo 2020 men’s hockey tournament on Friday, sending New Zealand packing with a convincing 4-1 win.
Argentina will now go on to play Germany who secured a 3-1 victory over the Netherlands and will likely be out for revenge for their 2016 Olympic semi-final loss against Los Leones.
The South Americans, who went into Friday’s game knowing that they had to win to advance, pulled level shortly after New Zealand had opened the scoring in the first quarter.
They then took a 2-1 lead by halftime before two more goals after the break.
“I think that’s why we are Argentineans, we struggle with everything. With life, with economy, with politics, with everything,” said veteran Agustin Mazzilli.
“That’s the way we like to play. When we feel the pressure we play better.”
Argentina were joined in the knockout rounds by Spain who scored a last-minute equaliser against group winners Australia, which gave them the draw they needed to advance.
Spain’s quarter-final match will be against Belgium, who ended with a 2-2 draw against Britain on Friday, while in-form Australia will take on the Netherlands.
India’s women’s team also celebrated a late goal which secured a 1-0 victory over Ireland, keeping the South Asian nation’s Olympic dreams alive.
South Africa’s men’s team failed to make it out of their group after a 4-4 draw against Canada, who had already been eliminated. That draw meant Germany’s men advanced to the knockout stages.
Spanish veteran Alvaro Iglesias Marcos said it was unbelievable that his team scored their late penalty corner to finish the match against the Kookaburras 1-1.
“We knew it would be the toughest game of the group and we played a perfect defensive match,” he said. “At the end we had our chance and we made it, so it was perfect.”
India’s men’s team beat hosts Japan 5-3, and will play Britain in the quarter-finals.
In the women’s competition, Navneet Kaur gave India their first win out of four matches after pushing a shot past the Ireland goalkeeper from within the striking circle.
“After we missed so many opportunities, we scored at the end. It’s awesome,” Kaur said.
“Now we are more confident for the next match.”
India and Ireland, who are making their Olympic debut in women’s hockey, each have three points in their group.
However, the Irish have fourth spot – which is good enough for a ticket to the knockout rounds – thanks to a better goal difference.
Both teams have one match left and can still qualify depending on the results of the final round in the group.
Elsewhere in the women’s tournament, Germany beat South Africa 4-1.
(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Ken Ferris and Toby Davis)