Spain turn table, beat India 5-3 in the 2nd leg of FIH Pro League

Debutant Sukhjeet Singh in action for India against Spain in the second leg of the FIH Pro League, in Bhubaneswar on February 27, 2022.

Spain turn table, beat India 5-3 in the 2nd leg of FIH Pro League

Bhubaneswar, February 27, 2022

Putting behind last evening’s defeat, Spain produced a high voltage game to overpower India 5-3 in the second leg of the FIH Pro League at Kalinga Hockey Stadium here on Sunday.

Rattled by the unexpected slump of form which saw them lose the first leg 4-5 despite leading 4-1, the visitors played an all-out attacking game, making sure of not repeating the mistake of the first game. They had a plan for this evening and which they managed to execute successfully.

Two goals in the last six minutes enabled the visitors pip India to collect full points.

For the visitors, who led 3-2 at half-time, the goal scorers were Pau Cunill (2), Joan Tarres, Pepe Cunill, Marc Miralles (one each). For India, Abhishek, Harmanpreet and Sukhjeet Singh scored a goal each.

Abhishek gave India the lead in the sixth minute. The striker made a fine solo dash to beat onrushing goalkeeper Adrian Rafi.

Eight minutes later, Cunill drew parity for Spain converting the first penalty corner (1-1) and just seconds later “Player of the Match" Tarres intercepted a ball near the Indian circle and, with a powerful reverse hit, shot past Suraj Karkera to make it 2-1.

Cunill scored his second and the team’s third goal against the run of play as India had enjoyed more possession and more meaningful attacks to that point in the second quarter (3-1). Cunill’s shot flew past P R Sreejesh in the goal. The veteran goal keeper was celebrating his 250th match and this was not the way he would want to remember the occasion.

India hit back immediately through Harmanpreet, as he converted a penalty corner (3-2). The goal made Harmanpreet the first player to reach double figures in this year’s goal scoring tally.

The third quarter was intense but neither side managed to find a goal-scoring breakthrough, although India played with more energy and ideas than their European counterparts.

With nine minutes left, Sukhjeet Singh, who was playing his first senior game, made the dream start on his debut, dribbling through the Spanish defenders before slotting the ball home to bring the scores level (3-3).

With just over six minutes left, another drama unfolded. Pepe Cunill joined his brother Pau on the score-sheet after converting a penalty corner – for his first senior international goal. The shot was subject to a long video review but the goal stood and Spain took the lead again. (4-3)

India took their ‘keeper from the field with three minutes left and Spain were able to capitalise when they won another penalty corner. Marc Miralles was able to fire home (5-3) for his fourth goal of the weekend.

This was Spain’s first FIH Hockey Pro League win of the season.

After the match, Tarres said: "Today was amazing because we played very well. It is easy to make goals but it is very hard to defend against India because they are so fast.’

India’s captain Manpreet bemoaned that his side missed chances: "We missed some good opportunities so we will work hard on improving some things before we face Germany, England and Argentina."

The result means India are in second place in the league table, four points behind the Netherlands. Spain remain in the eighth position.

NNN

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