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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Dark horse Argentina punched above their weight to emerge champions of the FIH Odisha Men's Junior Hockey World Cup by registering a stunning 4-2 victory over six times champions and title favourite Germany in the high-voltage summit clash at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. This was the second title for the South American giants.

Argentina dominated proceedings in the first quarter against the Germans and earned their first penalty corner in the 10th minute. Striker Lautaro Domene struck a howitzer from the left corner of the post to open the account and continued the tempo throughout the first quarter to put Germans on the duck. Though the European heavyweights got a good chance of scoring in the last minute, Argentina custodian Nehuen Hernando deflected it away from the post to deny the opposition a certain scoring opportunity.

At the start of the second quarter, the Germans showed a hint of comeback and missed a couple of opportunities by a whisker. However, Argentina came back strongly to create a second penalty corner which was beautifully converted by Domene through a tactical camouflage. They continued their momentum to maintain the 2-0 lead till the half time as Germany missed a penalty corner in the last minute.

Germany showed resilience in the second half and Julius Hayner struck a brilliant hit from the left flank to reduce the lead to 1-2. Argentina tried their best to put a game on with increasing intensity, but failed to score. The third quarter ended 2-1 in Argentina's favour.

In a bid to find the equaliser, the Germans were relentless in their attack in the fourth and last quarter as well. In the process, they got four successive penalty corners in the 46th minute and in the last chance Masi Pfandt grabbed the opportunity to find the equaliser.

However, Argentina opted to attack even more and was immediately rewarded with a penalty corner. Domene was again on target to increase their lead to 3-2. Hockey was its best when the Germans came out with all guns blazing during the dying moments of the match and Franco Agostini scored the fourth goal and sealed the Gold for the South Americans in the mouth-watering clash.

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