The Indian men's hockey team entered the quarterfinals of the Olympics with a 3-1 total victory over champion Argentina, scoring two goals in the final two minutes of their penultimate group match here on Thursday.
After a goalless draw in the first two quarters, India broke the tie in the 43rd minute for Varun Kumar before Vivek Sagar Prasad (58) and Harmanpreet Singh (59) scored in the closing minutes of the match to conclude the match.
This was India's third victory in Group A at the Oi Hockey Stadium.
Argentina's only goal came from a penalty that Schuth Casella converted in the 48th minute.
Thanks to this victory, India consolidated its position in second place in Group A with three wins and a four-game loss, behind Australia.
Argentina is fighting for fifth place in the six-team group and needs to beat New Zealand in its final preliminary match on Friday at Tokyo Olympics to stay in search of a place in the quarterfinals.
The top four reach the quarterfinals of each group.
India will play host Japan in their final match on Friday.
The Indians were aggressive and pressured the Argentine defense from the start, attacking with numbers.
India completely dominated the first quarter and experienced back-to-back attacks, but Argentina defended aggressively to frustrate their opponents.
However, the Indians controlled the ball and penetrated the Argentine circle on numerous occasions but the final pass was lacking.
Manpreet Singh's men took their first shot on goal in the third minute.
But Dilpreet Singh's shot from close range into Simranjeett Singh's pass was blocked by Argentine goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi.
Manpreet's midfield played a great game in the first quarter, which was evident from the penetration stats around the circuit. India scored 16 matches against the Argentines.
India was almost rewarded in the 27th minute when Simranjeet's dive attempt went over the post.
Two minutes later, Argentina had their first real chance to score, but Nahuel Salles's powerful shot from the right corner of the circle was obstructed by Sreejesh's outstretched hands.
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It was a frustrating first half as both teams failed to secure a single penalty kick to head into the half-time goalless.
The scenario was similar in the third quarter, as India continued to miss out on opportunities.
First, Gurjant Singh missed point-blank range in the 35th minute, then Ropiner Pal Singh missed successive penalties minutes later.
Soon the Indians' hearts were in their mouths when the Argentina defense was shocked but Matias Rey was unable to beat Sreejesh from a single position.
India needed 43 minutes to break the deadlock through Varun, who scored from the team's third penalty kick.
Seconds after the end of the third quarter, India missed four penalties in a row as Argentina fought back bravely.
It was even in the 48th minute that Casella scored Argentina's first penalty.
They had two more chances, one from a Lucas Villa field effort saved by Sreejesh and the other from a penalty that the Indians vigorously defended.
Within two minutes of throwing, Vivek regained India's lead from a rebound after Vivaldi saved Dilpreet's attempt, and in due course, Harmanpreet managed to drive the final nail into Argentina's coffin by converting the eighth penalty kick from the team.
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