An inept display by the Indian defence allowed Argentina to dash India's hopes of playing the championship match at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup here in Ipoh, Malaysia, after the Argentines held onto a 3-2 victory.
The two teams went into the match needing at least a draw to keep themselves alive in the tournament, but two defensive errors by India at the start of the second half gave Argentina the break they were looking for after a goal-less first half.
Defender Sandeep Singh was caught napping in the 38th minute when Argentina pumped in their first two goals through Matias Paredes and Santiago Montelli within a space of seconds. Paredes took advantage of Sandeep's defensive error to put the ball into the goal. Another elementary mistake in defence from skipper Sardar Singh, who was dispossessed by Montelli, gave the Argentine enough time to find the target.
India regrouped with 20 minutes left on the clock and scored on a PC. VR Raghunath's drag-flick thudded into the Argentine goalkeeper's pads but the rebound fell in front of skipper Sardar Singh whose reverse hit found the target to make it 2-1.
But seven minutes late, in the 58th, Man-of-the-Match Gonzalo Piellat scored off Argentina's first and only penalty corner of the match to make it 3-1. India, though, kept their hopes of a draw alive when Raghunath found the mark on another penalty corner in the 60th minute, but the Argentines kept the Indian raids at bay in the last 10 minutes to register a narrow 3-2 win.
The win puts Argentina clear on the second spot with nine points from five matches while India remain on six points, with a match against archrivals Pakistan lined up on Thursday.