India suffered a defeat in their home ground as the Spanish team dominated the Men in Blue to win 3-2 at the Kalinga Stadium in the third match of the brand new FIH Hockey Pro League season, here.
Spain looked stronger from the start of the game with more ball possession and with their forwards scoring two goals in the first half. Although India made a comeback in the dying minutes, Marc Reyne scored the winner in the 57th minute to win it for Spain. Spain was particularly dangerous on the flanks as they created more attacks from the sides.
After an evenly contested first quarter, a mistake from Harmanpreet proved costly as Spain converted that penalty corner into a goal in the 17th minute of the game. Sreejesh tried to save that but the deflection that came from Sreejesh’s pads was hit straight into the net by Eduard De Ignacio. India created opportunities but couldn’t convert any. Young Raj Kumar Pal missed an open shot as he hit it just away from the goalpost in the 20th minute. It was then captain Marc Miralles who scored another goal to give Spain a two-goal cushion.
Mandeep and Hardik’s combination earned India two penalty corners with skipper Harmanpreet Singh converting the second one. India was particularly dangerous on the left flank with Spain giving them ample amount of space to create opportunities. Spain went into the half-time break with a goal ahead but it was then the Men in Blue who showed their class.
The third quarter turned to be a neck-to-neck contest as teams tried to divulge into their opponents’ half without much success. Spanish goalkeeper Adrian Rafi was the star in the last quarter effecting a few heroic saves denying Indian forwards to score another. However, Abhishek got the breakthrough to make the scores level.
Max Caldas’ men are known for not giving up, and they showed that today. Spain kept attacking continuously and finally Marc Reyne was able to beat Indian goalkeeper Krishan B Pathak to seal the match in their favour.
The player of the match, Jordi Bonastre was extremely happy with his team’s performance: “It was a tough game today but our team played together and we delivered. We go into 3-4 days break now and we would like to keep this winning momentum going.”
India’s Manpreet Singh, who’s one of the most senior members of the side, said that their performance dropped today from what they played against New Zealand: “We got enough chances but couldn’t convert any of them. We will sit together, find out our mistakes through video analysis, and would come back stronger.”
India play New Zealand next on November 4.