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Irish to the four means it's win or bust against Argentina

By Graham Hamilton

Ireland men have fulfilled their ranking after a 4-2 win over Canada in Rio - and now they want to go one better by beating Argentina late tonight to reach the quarter-finals.

Many thought it was all over for Craig Fulton's men when they lost their opening three games, albeit against teams in the world's top five.

But now they are up and running and a win tonight against Argentina would guarantee them fourth place in the pool and a quarter-final place on Sunday.

The South Americans, though, almost spoiled that scenario when they led Germany 4-3 but the Olympic champions drew level with just eight seconds left to keep the Irish dream alive.

The Green Machine needed a good start and got it when Mikey Watt won a penalty corner and Shane O'Donoghue's drag flick penalty corner found the net.

They then had to survive three penalty corners before two goals close to the half-time hooter gave them a three-goal cushion.

John Jackson won another penalty corner and O'Donoghue converted again, and from the restart Watt broke clear and, when his shot was saved, Peter Caruth dived in to steer the ball home.

But the Irish began to get careless and Scott Tupper pulled one back from the top of the circle and added a second from a penalty corner.

Ronan Gormley hooked one effort off the line and Eugene Magee took another off the line, but finally the Irish composed themselves and Mitch Darling got their fourth four minutes from time, scooping the ball over the goalkeeper.

"The first Olympic win, three points - it's huge," said coach Fulton. "We have been pushing hard for four games and today it came good and we were clinical.

"We executed the corners which was something that was missing from the earlier games but we knew we had it in us."

But goalscorer Darling said: "We're happy with the win - but it means little unless we can back it up against Argentina."

Great Britain also have a lot of work to do too following their 2-1 defeat against Australia - they are level on points with New Zealand but have an inferior goal difference.

That means they need to better their result against Belgium when they take on Spain, otherwise they'll be heading home.

Pool B: Netherlands 2 India 1; Ireland 4 Canada 2; Argentina 4 Germany 4

Today: Pool A: Great Britain v Spain (5pm); Belgium v New Zealand (6pm); Australia v Brazil (Saturday, 12.30am)

Pool B: India v Canada (4.30pm); Germany v Netherlands (5.30pm); Argentina v Ireland (11.30pm)

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