The Indian men’s hockey team put up a spirited fight before going down 1-2 against Spain in its opening game of the 100th Anniversary Spanish Hockey Federation international tournament here.
Captain Harmanpreet Singh (59th minute) netted a goal for India after Pau Cunill (11th) and Joaquin Menini (33rd) had put the host in front on Tuesday.
India started the match on an aggressive note with high pressing in the first quarter but was unable to score. Spain began to gain momentum as the first quarter progressed, and Pau Cunill found the back of the net to put the hosts ahead.
With the scoreline stacked against them, India looked to control possession and launch a counterattack in the second quarter in search of an equaliser, but Spain’s defence held strong to prevent the visitors from bouncing back.
The second quarter ended goalless, with Spain leading 1-0 at half-time.
The third quarter began with the Indian team in attacking mode and repeatedly testing Spain’s defence.
However, the host not only kept India at bay but also doubled its lead through Joaquin Menini, who found himself in an ideal position to deflect a lighting shot by Jose Basterra three minutes after the half-time resumption.
Trailing by two goals, India shifted gears to put relentless pressure on Spain and even won a penalty corner, but was unable to capitalise on it.
Also, Spain’s goalkeeper saved Harmanpreet’s fiery shot from a distance towards the end of the third quarter to make sure that the home team enters the final 15 minutes of the game with a two-goal cushion.
India came out all guns blazing in the fourth quarter and created some good scoring opportunities, but it still struggled to find its first goal of the game.
Spain switched to counter-attacking mode and won back-to-back penalty corners, but was unable to convert.
India continued to put pressure on the home team’s defence, which paid off when Harmanpreet converted a penalty corner in the dying minutes of the game.
Spain, however, prevented India from scoring another goal.
The Indian team will next take on the Netherlands on Wednesday.
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