Belgium win shootout to enter Champions Challenge final
Johannesburg: Belgium defeated Argentina 3-2 in the penalty shootout to enter the final of the Champions Challenge I hockey tournament after the scores were level at 2-2 in regulation period and extra-time on Saturday.
Belgium`s goalkeeper David van Rysselberghe, injured while stopping a try during the shootout which has a player dribbling into the circle and trying to flick into the goal, gallantly continued after medical aid on the pitch and blocked the last shot to pave the way for his country`s maiden entry into the final of the Champions Challenge.
Belgium`s Jerome Dekeyer was obstructed by the Argentina goalkeeper in the last try with the scores level, and a penalty stroke was awarded, although rules stipulate a penalty goal to be awarded on any infringement by the custodian.
Dekeyer, however, duly flicked the stroke into the boards to ensure Belgium`s passage into the goal.
In a closely-contested encounter, Pan-American champions Argentina opened the scoring in the 24th through Pedro Ibarra`s penalty stroke conversion.
The penalty was awarded when Lucas Rafeal Rossi was stick-checked inside the scoring zone.
Agustine Alejendro Mazzilli scored a dazzling goal in the 32nd minute to make it 2-0 for Argentina as he dribbled past three defenders in the circle and stunned the goalkeeper with a reverse smash into the net.
Belgium struck back within a minute as Florent van Aubel sent a stinging shot on the first move after the resumption from the middle.
Van Aubel was again in the spotlight when he deflected Tom Boon`s shot from the top of circle past goalkeeper Juan Manuel Vivaldi to equalise in the 50th minute.
Argentina were awarded another penalty stroke in the 57th minute for a stick-check on their striker but the Belgian protested that he was not even in possession of the ball. The decision was reversed and the stroke cancelled after the two umpires had a mid-pitch conversation.
Belgians were pressing hard towards the end of the regulation period, but scores remained level and the semifinal went into extra-time.
The sudden death extra period failed to break the deadlock and the penalty shootout was used to decide the winner.
During the penalty shootout, Belgium scored through Simon Gougnard, Thomas Bries and finally Dekeyser, while van Aubel and John Dohmen`s tries were blocked.
Argentina, who like Belgium have already booked their passage to the 2012 Olympic Games, scored in the shootout through Lucas Hernan Cammareri and Manuel Brunet, but three other players -- Ibarra, Lucas Martin Rey and Lucas Martin Vila failed to beat Belgian goalkeeper van Rysselberghe.