BUENOS AIRES: The Indian women's hockey team put up a valiant fight before losing 2-3 to World no.2 Argentina in a thrilling match here.
Goals from Sharmila (34th) and Gurjit Kaur (40th) gave India the lead after the hosts had scored in the 25th minute via Micaela Retegui but Argentina came up with back-to-back strikes in the final quarter through Augustina Gorzelany (50th) and Granatto Maria (57th) to eke out the win on Tuesday.
"We were close to a win but against an opponent like Argentina, you have to stay concentrated till the final hooter. The biggest take away from this match is to keep up the consistency in all four quarters," said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne was quoted as saying in a Hockey India release.
Though Argentina put India on the backfoot early in the match, earning a Penalty Corner (PC) in the 6th minute, India goalkeeper Savita made a splendid save to ward off danger.
Argentina continued to push for opportunities all through the second quarter too, creating PCs in the 21st and 23rd minutes but India's defence held the fort.
It was Retegui who fetched the 1-0 lead for the home team in the 25th minute with a swiftly converted goal.
After the 10-minute half time break, India made a strong comeback into the game, playing in a disciplined structure, closing the gaps in the 25 yards mark, and not allowing Argentina to make easy forays into their circle.
The forward-line, in the meantime, hunted for goals and succeeded in the 34th minute when Navjot Kaur setup young forward Sharmila to make the strike.
Though Argentina earned a PC in the 38th minute, India did well to hold the home team at 1-1.
In the 40th minute, India's lone drag-flicker Gurjit set up a crucial 2-1 lead with a powerfully struck goal.
In the following minutes, both India and Argentina traded a PC each, but none managed to convert.
It was eventually a penalty stroke awarded to Argentina in the 50th minute that changed the course of the match.
"After we scored 2-1 lead, we were in a few situations where we could have stayed calmer and try to increase the goal-difference by scoring more," said Marijne.
"Against a team like Argentina, you have to lead by more than a goal to secure a win else they will catch-up. These are valuable lessons for us, and this is what we would like to improve in the next game," he added.