Kiwis book Olympic berth
New Zealand came from behind to win the Olympic field hockey qualifying tournament here today, sinking Argentina 3-2 with a golden goal in the dying seconds of extra time.
The goal, the result of quick thinking by Brad Shaw after a botched penalty corner, put New Zealand ahead for the first time in the match and guarantees them a berth in Beijing.
Argentina, ranked three places ahead of New Zealand, had led for most of the winner-take-all final but will now miss the Olympics for the first time in 24 years.
New Zealand were beaten by Argentina 1-3 during pool play in the six-nation tournament, and twice had to fight back from a goal down in the final to tie 2-2 in regulation time.
Bolstered by the addition of captain Mario Almada, who successfully appealed his suspension for allegedly spitting at a player during yesterday's pool match against Ireland, Argentina had dominated most of the play.
They were rewarded in the 24th minute when Mati Vila played a flat ball from a penalty corner for his brother Lucas to deflect into the goal.
When New Zealand drew level with a David Kosoof goal against the run of play in the 49th minute, Argentina bounced back immediately with Mati Vila scoring from a penalty corner.
A concerted New Zealand foray into Argentinian territory saw them rewarded with a penalty corner which Hayden Shaw, the brother of Brad Shaw, fired into the goal for the equaliser.
There were few scoring opportunities in the extra time and it appeared the Olympic berth would be decided on penalties until New Zealand won a penalty corner with less than two minutes remaining. The Argentinians easily deflected the shot but the ball rolled across to Shaw who slotted the goal to win the match.
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