FIH Pro League: Spain mount a fightback but fall short as Australia emerge as 4-3 winner

European powerhouse Spain staged a second-half fightback against Australia, but it was not enough to beat the Kookaburras who emerged as 4-3 winners in a thrilling match of the first cluster in the men’s FIH Hockey Pro League at the Kalinga Stadium here on Sunday.

European powerhouse Spain staged a second-half fightback against Australia, but it was not enough to beat the Kookaburras who emerged as 4-3 winners in a thrilling match of the first cluster in the men’s FIH Hockey Pro League at the Kalinga Stadium here on Sunday.

Blake Govers celebrated his 150th cap for Australia in a riveting 4-3 win against Spain. The Australians dominated a first half in which both goalkeepers were called upon to make early saves.

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The Kookaburras eventually went ahead in the 9th minute, Luis Calzado saving a drag flick with his fully extended right foot only for Lachlan Sharp to find the net from the rebound. Around 10 minutes later, Jake Whetton tapped in from quick ball movement after the Spaniards were dispossessed inside their own 25-yard area, and Govers added a drag flick in the 25th minute for a 3-0 lead.

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The Aussies could have gone even further in front but missed two penalty corner opportunities in the 27th minute, Calzado saving one and the other clattering into the post. Marc Miralles then pulled one back for the Spaniards with a straight drag flick in the 29th minute and Australia led 3-1 at half-time.

A Spanish fightback in the third quarter saw debutant Nicolas Alvarez getting between the defenders to volley home for a 36th-minute field goal, and Pol Cabre Verdiell equalising from open play a minute later to set up a spectacular finish. Sharp kickstarted an incredible period of pressure for the Australians with a 52nd-minute tap-in after a series of fast passes in the circle, and Rafael Revilla had to make several excellent saves for Spain over the next five minutes to keep his team in the hunt.

Spain went all out in the final two minutes and there was brief elation as they deflected one in on the final hooter, but it was disallowed as the umpires ruled that the ball entered the circle in a dangerous position and the Kookaburras emerged as deserved winners.

(IANS)

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