The victory was Netherlands’ fourth in as many matches and left it as the only unbeaten team and atop the six-team table with 12 points.
In Thursday’s late match, Argentina beat Japan 3-1, leaving it in second place with nine points, two ahead of Australia. Germany, which beat Spain 2-1 on Thursday, was next with six, while Spain was left with one and Japan zero.
The reigning World Cup champion Dutch dominated throughout, creating five penalty corners and holding the Australians without any.
Against Japan, the Argentines attacked almost continuously for the first 20 minutes, but generated only a handful of chances by Carla Rebecci, two of which were well saved by goalkeeper Ikuko Okamura.
Japan relied on its counterattack, having its best chance when Domomi Komori raced into the circle alone in the 14 minutes, but fell as she prepared to shoot.
Noel Barrionuevo converted Argentina’s only penalty corner of the first half in the 31st minute for her third goal of the tournament.
Marine Russo doubled Argentina’s lead in the 41st minute, converting a rebound from Agustina Garcia’s centre.
Rebecci scored her second three minutes later to give Argentina a 3-0 lead.
Sakae Morimoto scored Japan’s lone goal, angling short from the corner of the circle in the 64th.
Argentine needs a win or a draw Saturday against Australia to assure a berth in the final. If Australia wins, the ‘Hockeyroos’
advance to the championship match.
Japan and Spain face off Saturday in a preview of a match they will play on Sunday for fifth place. Germany, the defending champ, faces Netherlands in the other Saturday clash.
In Thursday’s opening match, Nadia Ernestine-Krieke deflected in a shot just before halftime and Julia Mueller converted a penalty corner in the 50th to pace defending champion Germany over Spain.
Ernestine-Krieke forced Spanish goalkeeper Maria Rosa into two saves before the Germans built their 2-0 lead. Spain had its best early chance in the 24th minute when Monserrat Cruz broke into the circle, but Marta Prat failed to connect on her pass in front of an open goal.
A storm with blustery winds and driving rain plagued the final 20 minutes and hampered Spain’s chances. However, Cruz set up Barbara Malda with three minutes remaining, setting up a dramatic finish.