Bhubaneswar: Spain came from goal down to defeat Olympic champions Argentina 2-1 in their final Pool A game in the Men’s Hockey World League Finals (HWLF) here at Kalinga Stadium, Tuesday.
Matias Paredes (21st) scored for Argentina while Pau Quemada (50th) and Josep Romeu (59th) found the back of the net for Spain. The victory ensured Spain a second spot in Group A and they will play defending champions Australia in the quarterfinals.
There wasn’t much excitement in the first quarter as both teams tried to play possession hockey. The Spanish attacked for extended periods, but the Argentina defence held firm. Spain had one clear look at the Argentine goal, but custodian Juan Vivaldi who stood firm under the bar.
In the second quarter, the Spanish continued with their attacks. However, much against the run of play, it was Argentina who took the lead off a quick counter-attack. Lucas Ville made a fine darting run down the middle before finding skipper Parades inside the ‘D’ with a through ball. The latter did a quick turn before firing the ball past Spanish keeper Quico Cortes.
Spain had a chance to equalise in the 35th minute from their first penalty corner of the match but they squandered the opportunity with Quemada making a weak connection after receiving the ball off a passing bout between Sergi Enrique and Marc Salles only to see his powerless shot easily saved by Vivaldi.
In the last quarter however, it was the Olympic champions who looked more dominating and could have doubled their lead in the 49th minute, but a fantastic reflex save from Cortes prevented them from doing so.
They must have rued the fact as Spain restored parity after earning their second penalty corner off a quick counter-attack. This time Quemada made no mistake and scored with a sizzling hit to the right of Vivaldi.
Cortes was in the thick of action again for Spain in the 54th minute denying Argentina taking the lead with a brilliant diving save off an Agustin Mazzilli shot. Two minutes from time, Gonzalo Peillat failed to tap in a Villa prompt into an open net and in the very next minute Argentina had to pay a heavy price as Spain got a ‘stroke’ on the 59th minute which Romeu converted easily to seal victory for the European side.
Speaking to the reporters after the match Spain’s Enrique Gonzalez said, “It was a good to win against the World No.1 team and it will motivate us going into the quarterfinals against Australia who are very tough opponents.”