Riding on a superb defensive display, England shut out Spain 4-0 in their last league match of Pool D and set them up in the prime position to top the standings and bag a direct spot in the quarterfinal of the ongoing Hockey World Cup, here on Thursday.
England came into the match with four points from two matches and led India on goal difference (+5 against +2). By winning 4-0 against Spain on Thursday, England set India an uphill task of scoring eight goals to overtake them on goal difference or scoring seven goals with six field goals in their final Pool D match against Wales to finish on top of the table and claim the direct berth into the quarterfinals.
The team that finishes second and Spain will make it to the crossover matches.
England and Spain went into the match with the English needing to win to finish on top of the table. Spain needed to win to secure the second spot.
Phil Roper (10th min), David Condon (21st min), Nicholas Bandurak(50th min) and Liam Ansell (51st) scored for England as they made a good start, quelled a fightback from Spain in the second and third quarter before scoring twice in the final quarter to seal a comfortable victory.
England thus finished the group phase of the 2023 World Cup unbeaten and without conceding a goal.
They went into the lead in the 10th minute when Phil Roper scored off a penalty corner, slamming home a rebound after the goalkeeper had blocked the drag flick. Spain created a few chances but were thwarted by solid defending by England, who led 1-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Spain had more possession in the second quarter but it was England who were successful, with Condon scoring in the 21st minute, pushing in a quick pullback from the backline. England defended their fort strongly in the second quarter as they led 2-0 at half-time.
Spain dominated possession in the first half-half but England had more circle penetrations and shots at the goal. They earned two penalty corners as compared to one by Spain and converted one PC.
Spain had their best chance in the third quarter when Borja Lacalle pushed wide from near the six-yard spot with a fine pass by Gerard Clapes off a superb run. But earned their second penalty corner in the 38th minute but the flick was quite wide.
England went into the final quarter leading 2-0 and scored their third goal in the 50th minute when Nicholas Bandurak slammed the ball in from close range after Zachary Wallace made a superb run to the goalline before sending in a nice pass back to Ansell. His shot was blocked by Bandurak, who was close by, was successful and made it 3-0.
Spain were down to 10 men in the 51st minute when Marc Vizcaino was shown the lone green card of the match and England capitalised on it, attacked in numbers and scored their fourth goal within seconds. Ansell capitalised on some good work by Roper, who made a good run and sent in a short back pass to Ansell who stormed into the shooting circle and slammed the ball past the Spanish goalkeeper.
In the end, though Spain had equal possession, England made 22 circle penetration to Spain’s 12 and had seven shots at the goal while Spain had only four. England. Both teams earned two penalty corners but Spain missed both opportunities.
England goalkeeper Oliver Payne pulled off a couple of good saves while defender Nicholas Park too did well.