Bhubaneswar, Dec4: Argentina staged a dramatic late fight back to hold Netherlands to a 3-3 draw in a Pool A match of the Hockey World League Final here on Sunday evening.
Thierry Brinkman (12th minute), Valentin Verga (37th) and Mirco Pruijser (55th) scored for the Dutch while Matias Rey (45th), Lucas Vila (50th) and veteran dragflick specialist Gonzalo Peillat (59th) replied for the men from South America.
In the other Pool A match of the day, Belgium rode on a hat-trick from Loïck Luypaert to thrash Spain 5-0.
Luypaert scored off penalty corners in the 38th and 57th minutes and a penalty stroke in the 59th after Florent van Aubel (3rd) had given Belgium an early lead.
The result saw Belgium climb to the top of Pool A with the full six points from two matches. Spain continue to hold on to the second spot with three points thanks to a 3-2 win over Holland in their first match.
Argentina and Holland occupy the last two places in the pool with a single point each.
Argentina had a strong start, repeatedly pushing the Dutch on to the back foot with their lighting quick attacks. They enjoyed the greater share of ball possession in the opening two quarters, forcing Holland to adopt a defensive strategy with the occasional counter-attack.
It were the Dutch however, who took the lead against the run of play towards the end of the first quarter when Thierry Brinkman scored off a pass from Seve van Ass after a fast counter-attack.
Undaunted by the setback, the Argentines dominated the second period as well, but were unable to penetrate the Dutch defence before the half-time hooter.
Verga doubled Holland’s lead a couple of minutes into the second half and the Europeans continued to rely on their well organised defence to take a 2-0 lead into the fourth quarter.
Rey sparked off Argentina’s comeback when he scored off a penalty corner almost immediately after the start of the final period.
Vila sounded the boards off another penalty corner five minutes later to help Argentina draw level for the first time in the match before Pruijser restored Holland’s lead.
However, with just 40 seconds left on the clock, Peillat fired home from a penalty corner to ensure a point for Argentina.
Earlier, Belgium enjoyed a great day in office as they overwhelmed a rather off-colour Spain.
Florent van Aubel opened the scoring with a field goal in the early stages. Belgium continued to enjoy the upper hand thereafter, but some dogged defending by the Spaniards ensured that no more goals will be scored before half-time.
Loïck finally broke their resistance shortly after half-time when he powered home off a penalty corner. He scored off another setpiece just three minutes from the end to leave the Spaniards in total disarray.
A well worked move saw Cedric increase the tally with a field goal in the very next minute before Loïck completed his hat-trick off another penalty corner just seconds from the final hooter.