Argentina beat New Zealand for place in finals

IPOH, MALAYSIA: Argentina Wednesday exacted sweet revenge over New Zealand to register their fourth win, booking their place in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament.

Argentina tops the seven-nation standings with 13 points from five matches after their 2-1 win, with another match in hand against Canada on Saturday.

New Zealand, who will feature in the Beijing Olympics, only have three points from a win and three defeats.

Argentina, who failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics after losing 2-3 to the Kiwis in the final of the qualifiers in Auckland in February, went on the offensive from the very start.

Forward Martin Juan Lopez gave Argentina the lead in the ninth minute, breaking through the Kiwis' defence by beating two players before pushing the ball into goal.

Eight minutes later, they increased the lead off a penalty stroke.

Argentina's Ignacio Juan Gilardi was brought down in the D and umpire Peter Alan Wright of South Africa awarded a penalty stroke which Gilardi easily flicked it to the right, giving no chance to goalkeeper Paul Woolford.

New Zealand, however, managed to pull one back through Benjamin Collier in the 27th minute from the top of the D.

After a breather, the Kiwis surged their forwards in search of goals and earned five enalty corners, but goalkeeper Manuel Juan Vivaldi stopped all attempts.

Argentine coach Jose Carlos Retegui said that they were delighted to avenge their defeat by the Kiwis to reach their first ever final in the tournament.