Terrassa — Rocio Sanchez Moccia, Argentina’s 33-year-old mother and captain, sent Las Leonas into their first Women’s World Cup final for 12 years as they set up a mouthwatering clash with the Netherlands, the defending champions who have yet to hit their all-conquering stride in this competition. It will take several hours for Argentina to come down from their Saturday night heights.
Moccia wheeled away in delight after slotting home the winning shoot-out (4-2) at the end of a breathless 60 minutes – the best of this World Cup – after favourites Argentina had been locked 2-2 with gutsy, resolute Germany, who were well in this slug-fest for their first final since 1986.
This was a match which started with a German goal after 23 seconds and ended with a Argentinian onslaught in the final 30 seconds. It was a wonderful, gripping match. And now the best two sides in the world will slug it out in Sunday’s showdown – a repeat of the 2010 final for good measure.
Not that it was at all easy for both finalists, especially Argentina.
It was Germany who had stunned the boisterous Argentinian fanatics with an opening PC and you could sense the danger and Die Danas intent. Sonja Zimmermann hit from the top, Hanna Granitzki gleefully deflected from the PC. Not bad for a team which hadn’t found net gains in their last 26 set pieces.
Germany kept out Agustina Gorzelany before Seli Oruz volleyed cleanly on the right, Belen Succi’s well-worn pads coming to the rescue. As the first quarter played out, Succi was diving to her right as Elisa Grave’s reverse flew wide of the far post.
To end a gripping 15 minutes, Las Leonas won three PCs in succession. They kept the same routine for all three, Gorzelany striking low on the third for her seventh of the tournament.
Possession was with Germany in the second quarter. Belen was called into action with a pad block, the rebound seeing Charlotte Stapenhorst attempt a deft volley lob which dipped over the bar. Next, Jette Fleschutz was offered space on the right to set up a full forehand effort which Succi deflected away.
Germany were unlucky with several umpiring decisions not falling their way and unable to refer. (For the record, media have been unable to properly view any replays with no monitors on hand in the press box). And perhaps against the run of play, Argentina touched in a second through Agustina Albertarrio. It ended a breathless first 30 minutes.
With a gentle breeze the only respite, the pace dropped off in the third quarter, Maria Granatto summoning Argentina’s best effort with a drive wide of goal as Germany were forced to defend deep, Las Leonas fighting for a third.
But with seconds remaining of the third quarter, Germany countered, chased and from a driven rebound, Stapenhorst scored from close range. Had Argentina been looking for the hooter? It was classic Germany.
With under five minutes left, Granatto, becoming an increasing danger, thought she had Argentina’s third with a tap in but the umpire had blown for a reward. Julia Sonntag saw the second effort whistle past the post. Germany were down to 10 for the final two minutes with after a Fleschutz shoulder barge.
Argentina immediately countered and won a ninth corner. In the last minute alone, Germany saw strikes fly over while Sonntag stood tall to see off Trinchinetti and Albertarrio. It was as breathless an ending as the opening seconds to the match.
So to the shoot-out. Before Sanchez’s winning effort, both sides had missed their openers through Julieta Junkanas and Nike Lorenz. Albertarrio, Delfina Thome and Agostina Alonso kept their cool to bypass Nathalie Kubalski (replacing Sonntag in goal) while a Linnea Weidemann miss left the stadium hushed for the Argentina captain to step up. And with some aplomb.
It sets up an enticing last day in Terrassa, where Australia take on Germany for bronze, before Argentina, with their added, fervent support, aiming to conquer the world.