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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Argentina scripted a narrow win over France in the first semifinal to make it to the final of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men's Junior World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday.

The high-voltage match went down the wire, but finished goal-less in the stipulated time. In the ensuing shootout, while Argentina could convert three of their five chances, France found the target only once. Argentina goalkeeper Facundo Zarate stood like a rock behind the goal post to thwart the opposition attack.

Both the teams were found indulging in little skirmishes after the high-intensity shoot-out. But better sense prevailed in the end following the intervention of officials. While France players broke into tears, Argentina players were found celebrating their hard-fought victory in the middle.

Considering the intensity of the match, both the teams were circumspect and they started the game with caution amid little bit drizzle. Gradually they increased their momentum and created many opportunities, but failed to capitalise. Both sides also got many penalty corners, but their defence rose to the occasion and foiled those chances.

"We had worked a lot on our shootouts and were fully prepared for the situation which kept us in good stead for this high-voltage match," said Argentina skipper Facundo Zaratte.

Argentina will meet the winner of the second semifinal between India and Germany in the final on Sunday.

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