Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

France and Argentina played out a fighting 5-5 draw in a Pool-A match of the FIH Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 at the Birsa Munda Stadium in Rourkela on Friday.

In the process, both the teams qualified for the Crossovers of the marquee event. Earlier, Australia had qualified for the quarterfinals directly following a resounding 9-2 victory against South Africa.

While Victor Charlet scored four goals for France including a hat-trick, Della Torre Nicolas struck thrice for Argentina.

The nail-biting match saw Keenan Nicolas opening the account for Argentina as early as in the second minute of the match. Tynevez Etienne found the equalizer in the 10th minute. The first half ended with 1-1.

Both the teams tried their best to break the deadlock in the second quarter, but it was barren.

Nicolas doubled the lead for Argentina in the 33rd minute by converting a penalty corner. Charlet equalled the lead again just two minutes later. He then went on to convert a penalty corner in the 37th minute to increase the lead for France to 3-2. Nicolas again capitalized on a penalty corner to have the equalizer in the 41st minute. At the end of the eventful third quarter, both the teams were tied again with the scoreline reading 3-3.

In the all-important fourth quarter, Charlet grabbed on to a penalty corner chance to convert it into a goal in the 48th minute for France. However, Ferreiro Martin from the opposition was opportunistic enough to score a tricky field goal just two minutes later.

France increased their goal margin to five with an aggressive surge and creating a penalty stroke opportunity. Charlet converted it into a goal with ease in the 59th minute of the match. However, their joy was short-lived as Argentina players retaliated and created a penalty corner chance in the same minute. Nicolas converted it into a goal to finish his hat-trick and in the process ensured a fighting draw for his team.