Hockey World Cup: Korea beat Argentina in shoot-out, reach quarters

Bhubaneswar, Jan 23 (IANS) South Korea kept the Asian flag flying in the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 on Monday, riding on a brilliant performance by goalkeeper Kim Jae-Hyeon to overcome Argentina 3-2 in a shoot-out after fighting back from two goals down in the fourth quarter to hold the 2016 Rio Olympics gold medallists 5-5 in regulation time.

Korea were down 3-5 with 10 minutes to go for the final hooter, scored two goals from penalty corners, and survived some valiant attempts by Argentina as the match ended 5-5. The Korean goalkeeper had an exceptional match as he pulled out at least four superb saves and also made a couple of good blocks in the shoot-out to seal victory for his team.

Shin Seok’s side joined World No. 1 Australia, defending champions Belgium, World No. 3 the Netherlands, England, Germany, Spain and New Zealand in the quarterfinals and will be hoping to continue to keep the Asian hopes alive when they take on the Netherlands at Kalinga Stadium here on January 25.

Korea made it to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006 when they reached the semifinals and finished fourth. They finished 6th in the 2010 edition in New Delhi and 10th in the 2014 edition. They failed to qualify for the 2018 edition held at the same Kalinga Stadium.

Korea looked down and out, trailing 3-5 with 10 minutes to go before fighting their way to a 5-5 tie at the end of 60 minutes of play. After Argentina had taken the lead in the 7th minute, Korea struck two goals within two minutes to take a 2-1 lead before Argentina levelled the score within a few seconds and then take lead again.

Jang Jong-Hyun scored a brace of goals for them off PCs in the 40th and 49th minutes while Kim Sung-Hyun (17th min), Jeong Jun-Woo (19th min) and Lee Nam Yong (55th min) contributed one goal each in regulation time. For Argentina, Nicolas Keenan (20th and 46th minutes) and Nicolas Della Torre (23rd and 40th minutes) scored a brace each after Maico Casella had given them the lead in the 7th minute.

In the shoot-out, Argentina got off to a poor start when Lucas Toscani fluffed the first attempt. They missed the second too but Korea could not take a 2-0 lead as Taeil Hwang rattled the crossbar. Nicolas Keenan kept Argentina’s hopes alive and after Ji Woo Cheon and Maico Casella had converted their attempts for their respective teams, it was up to Martin Ferreiro to keep the ARgentine hopes alive, but delayed taking the shot and the Koreans jumped in joy, having sealed their place in the quarterfinals.

Argentina were leading 5-3 when Korea launched a wave of attacks. They earned a penalty corner in the 49th minute and Jang Jonghyun converted a penalty corner with a brilliant drag flick. Argentina had three chances to seal victory by scoring another goal as they earned three penalty corners within two minutes from 53rd to 55th but could not score. Jonghyun then set up Lee Nam Yong with a shot slap pass to Lee Nam Yong, who got into perfect position after inserting the ball and deflected it for a superb goal that made it 5-5 with five minutes to go.

Argentina made a few attempts in the final minutes but the Koreans held their fort together and went on to emerge victorious in the shoot-out.

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