FIH Pro League Hockey: Goalkeeper Krishan Pathak saves day for India as hosts beat Spain 3-1 in shootout

FIH Pro League Hockey: Goalkeeper Krishan Pathak saves day for India as hosts beat Spain 3-1 in shootout

Bhubaneswar, November 6, 2022

Goalkeeper Krishan Pathak pulled off three stunning saves as India beat Spain 3-1 in a penalty shootout after the two teams were levelled 2-2 in regulation time in the second leg of their FIH Pro League at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium here on Sunday.

In-form drag flicker Harmanpreet Singh gave India a 2-0 lead as he scored a brace converting penalty corners in the 12th and 31st minutes. However, Spain made a good comeback with skipper Marc Miralles (42’) and Amat Pere (54’) scoring a goal each to draw parity for the visitors.

In the resultant penalty shootout, Shamsher Singh missed the first attempt, Harmanpreet , Rajkumar Pal and Abhishek converted their attempts to give India the bonus point.

Goalkeeper Pathak was deservingly declared the man of the match for pulling off three crucial saves in the shoot-out and also preventing Spain from scoring more goals despite earning 13 penalty corners in the match.

As per FIH Pro League rules, if scores remain level at the end of the regulation period (four quarters), the match is considered a draw and both teams get a point each. A shoot-out follows, and the winner of the shoot-out bags a bonus point.

The two points also helped India regain the top spot in the league points table with eight points from four matches with a goal difference of +3.

Spain is behind India with eight points from four matches and a goal difference of +2.

Spain opened the game on an attacking note and earned the first penalty corner. Vice-captain Manpreet Singh, however, proved much faster as the second rusher to avert an early setback.

The hosts backed by a huge partisan crowd regrouped quickly and launched a few incisive counter-attacks. With two minutes left in the first quarter, captain Harmanpreet then scored his fifth goal of this season through a powerful drag-flick (1-0).

The Indian defence however did well to keep Spain at bay despite conceding multiple penalty corners in the second quarter.

At the end of the first half, India dominated 60 per cent of the possession but conceded three green cards. There were 12 penetrations in the circle for Spain as opposed to India's nine, and two shots at goal for Spain as opposed to one for India.

India started the second half brightly and earned their third penalty corner of the match.

Despite not trapping Hardik Singh’s injection neatly, Rajkumar Pal managed to hold the ball and relay it to Harmanpreet who made no mistake in converting the scond goal in the 31st minute (2-0).

Spain earned a number of penalty corners in the following minutes but failed to get on the scoresheet. Pathak made some brilliant saves to his left and right to deny the rivals any kind of opening.

Spain's skipper Marc Miralles, whose previous attempts above the waist were saved by Pathak, pushed low to his right to reduce the margin (1-2).

Spain maintained the pressure in the fourth quarter. However, the forwards failed to translate the chances into goals. However, a yellow card for Sumit in the final 10 minutes of the match enabled the visitors to draw level.

Amat Pere’s shot from close range in the 54th minute was saved by Pathak but the rebound off the foot of Jugraj Singh rolled into the goal to give Spain an equaliser.

The visitors continued to dominate the match and came close to scoring the winner in the final few minutes. However, the defenders and Pathak enabled India to survive and took the match to the shoot-out.

At the end of the regulation time, Spain had 13 penalty corners to show compared to India’s three and 35 circle penetrations as to India’s 15.

This was India’s final match in the FIH Pro League this year. They will resume the League season against Germany and Australia in March.

NNN

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