Gonzalo Peillat’s conversion of a second-quarter penalty corner helped world No 1 and Olympic champions Argentina knock India out of the Hockey World League Final on a rainy Friday evening in Bhubaneswar in the semi-final contest.

The home team responded with increased vigour – making more forays into the opposition circle, creating more chances and taking control of the ball – but couldn’t find an equaliser.

India had the ball more than the Argentinians did in the first quarter, but to penetrate their defence was tough. The incessant rain at the Kalinga stadium drenched the synthetic blue turf and slowed down the hosts in whites. The closest any team came to score during the game’s first phase was when Lucas Vila crossed, from the right flank, hoping to find his captain Matias Paredes at the goalmouth. But India’s goalkeeper (and their saviour against Belgium) Akash Chikte made a diving interception.

Three minutes into the second quarter, Argentina won the first penalty corner of the match. Gonzalo Peillat, after receiving the ball from Paredes, paused, as the agitated home side defenders nervously moved, locked his spot – the mid-left corner of the Indian net – and fired the first goal of the game. The top-ranked side were in firm control of the quarter, hardly giving the ball to the hosts – they had a possession of 78% and entered the Indian penalty circle on four occasions.

The water-logged patches of the turf hampered the home team’s movement. And as they struggled to gather momentum, their skipper – Manpreet Singh – was out for 10 minutes after getting a yellow card.

India, inspired by Manpreet’s return and the vociferous crowd that stayed braving all the rain, played a better third quarter, twice entering the opposition’s circle.

But one of their best chances came in the final quarter when Akashdeep Singh, after making a one-two pass to SV Sunil, had the ball within some five feet of the Argentinian net. But then, he was covered by a semicircle of six defenders and the opposition goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi. To score, he had to send the ball through the narrow gap between Vivaldi and a defender at the precise second, which he failed.

Despite the Indians going all out in the fourth quarter – 84% possession and five circle entries – the Argentinian defence allowed very little margin for error.

The hosts will now face either Germany or Australia in the bronze medal match on Sunday.