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Tears and disappointment flowed through Team GB’s hockey girls as Argentina deservedly booked their place in Friday’s London 2012 gold medal match with a 2-1 semi-final victory at the Riverbank Arena on Wednesday night.

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Two first-half goals turned a tough challenge into a rapidly inclining uphill struggle, and while King’s Lynn head coach Danny Kerry saw his girls put in a thrilling second-half effort and score late to rattle the world champions, it wasn’t quite enough to keep their Olympic title hopes alive.

GB now face New Zealand for the bronze medal on Friday afternoon.

“I’m very proud of what we did tonight,” said a teary-eyed Kerry. “I felt we were definitely in the second half at least the dominant side and Argentina offered little other than a bit of a dribble and we pretty much out-played them.

“The reason for not winning was the half-chances and not converting the opportunities. But I couldn’t have asked any more from the girls.

“They executed superbly on what we were trying to do and I felt Argentina were just defending and didn’t offer much other than that – but they did that well.

“It’s just an overwhelming sense of pride with how the girls played and bitter disappointment that having played so well we haven’t come out on the right end of the result.”

GB’s energetic start promised much but was dampened within six minutes, as Noel Barrionuevo slotted home an Argentina penalty corner after the ball struck a red foot in the D. From there Argentina were able to control a scrappy encounter.

The grumbly, frustrated air thickened on 31 minutes as Carla Rebecchi produced a moment of brilliance to run the ball down the left before improvising to round GB keeper Elizabeth Storry and flick home at full stretch.

But the goal was not without its controversy. A third party infringement in the build-up was not noticed by the officials and despite GB protests, the video referral system could not be used as the incident took place beyond the 23m line.

Out quickly for the second half, GB started quickly too – but Crista Cullen’s 37th-minute penalty was blocked and Helen Richardson fluffled a glorious chance as the game slipped away.

Alex Danson brought hope with barely five minutes to play, flicking home from close range. But Kerry’s girls could not produce the equaliser their second-half heart and endeavour merited to leave all 11 girls on the floor – heads in hands.

“Some hard questions need to be asked,” said Kerry of the first-half controversy. “To the letter of the law the decision was correct, but everyone knew, millions watching on TV, the players, the crowd knew it happened – but it couldn’t be referred.

“It was raised before the Games about it being an absurd interpretation and we were ensured common sense would prevail, but it hasn’t.”

• Defending champions Holland booked their place in the final with a 3-1 penalty shoot-out win over New Zealand.

The world number ones twice came from behind to draw 2-2 and after a scoreless golden goal extra-time, Ellen Hoog scored the winning penalty to send Holland through.

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