Friday, May 24, 2024

Olympic 2012 Hockey: Clinical Las Leonas end Great Britain’s golden dream

[img_assist|nid=5579|title=End of a dream|desc=Alex Danson (r) and Ashleigh Ball at the end of Great Britain’s semi-final loss to Argentina –|link=node|align=right|width=220|height=146]LONDON, August 8 – Great Britain blew a golden opportunity as poor finishing costs them a place in the Olympic games hockey final.

After taking a 2-0 first-half lead, Argentina tackled adeptly and channelled countless GB attacks into the Sargasso Sea of the cornerflags where the home side were becalmed, never to return.

For more images see the gallery.

A brief moment of hope came when Alex Danson turned in a cross   from Helen Richardson on the right to make to 2-1 with five minutes to go. But world champions las Leonas held their nerve and set up an el clasico final against the Netherlands.

Earlier, Richardson and Ashleigh Ball both had shooting opportunities. Richardson, GB’s saviour on so many occasions, made a poor contact and Ball made a wild one. Crista Cullen also had a penalty corner well charged down by lead runner.

But on the whole the Riverbank Arena crowd didn’t have much to cheer about. Although some fearless tackles from GB skipper Kate Walsh, playing with a nerve block in a jaw she broke ten days before, raised the loudest of roars.

However, it only took Argentina six minutes to take the upper hand in the semi-final with Noel Barrionuevo’s 91st international goal – a low penalty corner flick to keeper Beth Storry’s left. 

Great Britain struggled to create good chances and only had one clear first-half goal opportunity – Alex Danson shot into the side netting on the backhand from a tight angle in the 30th minute. Meanwhile Luciana Aymar had produced some magic with a lift and volley from the baseline, but it was ruled dangerous. 

[img_assist|nid=5554|title=Generation game|desc=Georgie Twigg in her first Olympics (l) tackles Luciana Aymar who now has four Olympic medals in the bag –|link=node|align=left|width=220|height=146]Carla Rebecchi then produced a finish worthy of winning any game. In almost the same position as Aymar’s juggle – with inches to spare on the left baseline – she dragged the ball to the left past Storry then, sprawling, pushed the ball in from an impossible angle after 33 minutes. 

Great Britain had a claim that an obstruction outside the 25 led directly to the goal. But under the strict letter of the tournament regulations that cannot be taken to video adjudication and GB’s requests for a referral were denied.

GB coach Danny Kerry said: “It was a third-party obstruction and everybody saw it.”

After the game both Walsh and coach Kerry praised the team.

Walsh said: “I’m very proud of what we did tonight. I felt, in the second half at least, we were the dominant side. I thought Argentina offered little other than a bit of a dribble and we outplayed them.

“The reason for not winning was the half-chances and not converting the opportunity, but I couldn’t have asked more from the girls. They executed superbly on what we were trying to do and I felt that Argentina were really just defending, and not offering much other than that, but they did that well.

“[There is] just an overwhelming sense of pride in how well the girls played and just bitter, bitter disappointment that, having played so well, we haven’t come out on the right end of the result.”

Argentina captain Luciana Aymar will now become the first woman to win four Olympic hockey medals when she takes to the field for Friday’s final, on her 35th birthday.

Total Hockey


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