It’s not an ‘everyday thing’ to see world number one Australia being put under the cosh on the international stage. World number 7 Argentina threw a serious challenge at the redoubtable Australia and nearly pulled off a ‘famous win’ before settling for a 3-3 draw courtesy a late Blake Govers goal at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar.
The Mariano Ronconi-coached Los Leonas perhaps would have set themselves up for a stern examination when Jeremey Hayward rifled in a short corner in the first quarter – his 95th international goal. Argentina announced their fightback in the second quarter when Tomas Domene breached the defences of Andrew Charter off a shortie routine. The match looked poised for an intriging tussle with the South Americans taking the fight to their much superior opposition but their spirits were dented a bit when Daniel Beale scored at the stroke of half-time as the Kookaburras held the psychological advantage of being in front at the break.
Argentina needed a quick riposte in the second riposte when Maico Casello, who scored the match-winner against South Africa, beat his marker Jake Harvey and guided a swift Lucas Toscani pass into the Aussie goal. The Los Leonas literally drove the Aussies back to their walls in the final quarter when Martin Ferreiro flicked home a backhander after being brilliantly set up by Lucas Villa.
Argentina must have raised visions of their last win over Australia five years back when they won 2-1 at a Four Nation Tourney at Darwin in 2018. The stage was set for the first major upset of the 15th World Cup but Blake Govers played a spoiler. Producing a ‘smart defensive steal’ from Facundo Zarate, Blake Govers rushed and unleashed a screamer that denied the South Americans what could have been a great win!
The world number one in the end were lucky to split points after looked set to finish second-best two minutes before the final hooter. The 3-3 draw opens up Pool A – France’s last pool tie against Argentina assumes significance as the both teams would go all out for a win as anything less than a win may not be enough to seal their quarterfinal passage.