BHUBANESWAR, India: England stunned Olympic champions Argentina 3-2 yesterday to book their place in the semi-finals of the 14th Men’s Hockey World Cup.
In the other quarter-final, two-time defending champions Australia defeated France 3-0.
World No1 Australia scored all their goals from penalty corners through Jeremy Hayward (4th minute), Blake Govers (19th) and skipper Aran Zalewski (37th).
However, the final scoreline was far from convincing from Australia’s point of view, especially against a side which ranked lowest in the tournament at 20th.
The Frenchmen played good hockey in bits and pieces but were undone by the Kookaburras’ vast experience and skills.
Despite the loss, the Frenchmen would return home with pride, especially with the superb show here that includes a shocking win over Olympic champions Argentina in the pool stages.
Australia will play the winner of today’s last quarter-final between India and Netherlands in the semi-finals on Saturday.
England, who conceded the lead in the 17th minute, staged a superb comeback to make their third successive semi-final appearance in the history of the tournament.
England scored three field goals through Barry Middleton (27th minute), Will Calnan (45th) and Harry Martin (49th), while Gonzalo Peillat (17th, 48th) struck both the goals for the losers.
Argentina, the bronze medallist in 2014, had themselves to blame for the defeat as they missed chances galore and got into panic mode after conceding the third goal.
Both Argentina and England were level 1-1 till 45th minutes but three goals in the last quarter changed the whole scenario.
Will Calnan made it 2-1 for England before Peillat drew parity in the 48th minute.
But a minute later Martin shocked the Los Leones with a field strike to hand England the decisive lead.
Earlier, realising that slow pace is not helping them, England raised their tempo and that paid dividends as they earned their first penalty corner in the 11th minute.
Luke Taylor’s effort from the resultant set piece earned them another penalty corner immediately but Argentina defended stoutly to keep their rivals at bay.
Argentina secured its first penalty corner in the 17th minute and drag-flick expert Peillat scored with a powerful flick to take the lead.
While Argentina players were celebrating, England almost equalised with a brisk counter-attack only for David Condon to miss a sitter.
Thereafter, the Los Leones surprisingly adopted a defensive approach and that worked in England’s favour.
Mark Gleghorne’s fine run down from the right flank and his subsequent cross was cleared by England defenders which laid in front of an unmarked Middleton, who slotted home with a powerful shot past goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi to level the scores.
Buoyed by the equaliser, England went on the offensive but failed to get past Argentina’s crowded defence.
Argentina, on the other hand, adopted a wait and watch policy to launch counter-attacks but in vain.
England take on the winner of the match between Germany and Belgium in the semi-finals on Saturday.
Germany vs Belgium
India vs Netherlands