The New Zealand men’s hockey team bowed out of the Olympics when they were beaten 4-1 by defending champions Argentina.
The loss left New Zealand in fifth place in their group with only the top four progressing to the quarter-finals.
Argentina struck top form in what was a must-win match for both teams and played with urgency throughout.
It was New Zealand who scored first, with a goal from a penalty corner to the always dangerous Kane Russell in the 14th minute.
But from there things started to unravel. Dane Lett deflected an Argentinian shot into his own goal on the stroke of quarter-time, which made it 1-1, and immediately after the break the Argentinians went ahead 2-1, courtesy of a Lucas Vila goal.
When Jose Tolini converted a penalty corner just before the end of the third quarter, New Zealand were in big trouble.
They tried hard to force play in the closing minutes but found it difficult to penetrate. Goalie Leon Hayward was pulled from the action in the closing minutes as New Zealand threw everyone forward chasing goals, but they never came and at the end of the match Nicolas Keenan took advantage of the open goal to stretch Argentina’s lead to 4-1.
New Zealand ended their tournament with a win, three losses and a draw. On reflection it was probably the draw against Japan that proved most costly. Japan finished bottom of the pool group and a win against them would have given New Zealand two extra points and lifted them into fourth place above Spain.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games