It was a match where the Indians held the ascendancy for most part before Spain mounted a late surge to make it evens stevens in regulation time, and subsequently came up short in the shootout as the hosts won 3-1 to secure the bonus point (a shootout win is considered as a draw in record books) and stormed to the top of the FIH Pro League points table. Both India and Spain have 8 points from 4 games, but the Blueshirts enjoy a better goal average and are perched on the top of the tree.
India seemed to have done their homework from their first leg 2-3 loss to Spain, and made it tough for the Redsticks to tower over the midfield. Indian deep defence wore a disciplined look with goalkeeping Krishan Pathak putting a doughty show as he was leveraged for all four quarters over experienced PR Sreejesh. The likes of Manpreet Singh, Raj Kumar Pal, Rabichandra Singh and Amit Rohidas fought tooth and nail alongside their opponents and frustrated Spain to no end.
Skipper Harmanpreet Singh drew first blood in the opening quarter and the hosts held the slender lead quite well, not allowing Spain to come back into the contest and went into half-time break with a 1-0 scoreline. The onus was on Spain to take the attack to the opposition in the second half but all such plans came unstuck when Harmanpreet Singh profited from another short corner off a PC routine after the ball was mistrapped but Raj Kumar Pal retrieved it and fed the Indian captain, who belted home a scorching shot to double the lead.
Spain strived to come hard at the Indians and it was left to Marc Miralles to keep them in the match with a short corner conversion in the closing stages of the third quarter. Miralles’s penchant for scoring goals against India is well documented – it was his sixth goal against India this year.
India looked poised to glean full points against Spain but Pere Amat gave Spain a lifeline when he scored from the right – his baseline flick was well saved by Krishan Pathak but the ball hit the foot of Jugraj Singh and trickled into the Indian goal. Jugraj Singh going by his own lofty standards, had an off-day in the pitch – he conceded a penalty corner as well as earned a yellow card.
India had to endure anxious moments in the dying seconds as Spain forced a few shorties but Krishan Pathak foiled those attempts to stretch the contest into a shootout, where India won 3-1 with Pathak doing an exemplary job in the cage. Coach Graham Reid would be looking to work on the improvement areas of the team but should build on the run of two wins and a draw from four Pro League games. Spain would need to work on their shootout conversions – they could just convert only one out of nine shootout attempts in two games in Bhubaneshwar.