Updated: February 27, 2022 10:55:11 pm
The Indian men’s hockey team slumped to its second defeat in the FIH Pro League as it lost 3-5 to Spain in the second match of their two-legged tie at the Kalinga Stadium on Sunday. If world No. 4 India made a last-minute dash on Saturday to beat Spain 5-4 in a pulsating match, the scenario was completely opposite on Sunday as world No. 9 Spain were accurate with their penalty corner conversions to completely outwit the hosts.
Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist India took the lead in the sixth minute through Abhishek before Spain struck thrice through Pau Cunill (14th, 24th) and Joan Tarres (14th). Pepe Cunill (54th) and skipper Marc Miralles (59th) converted two more penalty corners to seal the issue for the visitors.
India’s other goals were scored by Harmanpreet Singh (27th) and Sukhjeet Singh (51st). India had lost 2-5 to France in South Africa earlier this month.
Despite registering their second defeat in the league, India are currently placed second in the standings with 12 points from six matches, including four wins. India will next play Germany in another two-legged home tie here on March 12 and 13.
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India started on a bright note as young Abhishek, playing only his second international tournament, scored a superb goal with a lovely piece of skill down the right byline. He lobbed the ball over the Spanish goalkeeper to give his side the lead in the sixth minute.
Down by a goal, Spain pressed hard and scored twice in the 14th minute to end the first quarter with a 2-1 lead. First, Pau Cunill converted a penalty corner and then few seconds later Joan Tarres scored a lovely field goal after a defensive lapse by India.
Soon after the start of the second quarter, India were awarded a penalty stroke for a push on Lalit Upadhyay inside the circle but the decision was reversed after Spain went for the referral. Spain then secured two back-to-back penalty corners which was defended well by the Indians.
Spain’s relentless attack bore fruit in the 24th minute when Cunill scored his second goal of the day, once again from a penalty corner to hand the visitors a 3-1 lead. But India didn’t sit back and they attacked in numbers, in the process earning a penalty corner which was converted by Harmanpreet Singh to reduce the margin to 2-3 three minutes later.
The third quarter turned out to be a sloppy affair as both the teams failed to manage a real goal-scoring opportunity. Young Sukhjeet scored his first international goal on debut in the 51st minute, pushing home Jaskaran Singh’s pass from the right flank as India levelled the scores at 3-3.
But India’s joy was shortlived as three minutes later Spain restored their lead through another penalty corner conversion, this time by Pau Cunill’s brother Pepe Cunill. Trailing by a goal, India withdrew their goalkeeper for an extra player two minutes from the final hooter and Spain grabbed the opportunity with both hands to mount raids on the Indian defence.
Spain’s ploy worked wonders as they secured two consecutive penalty corners with a minute left in the match and the second chance was dully put into goal by skipper Miralles.
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