FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023: Australia averts an upset
Pre-tournament favorites Australia naverted a major upset as it came from behind to defeat a spirited Spain 4-3 in the first quarter-final of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup at iconic Kalinga Stadium today.
Spain’s heroics came to an end as it muffed a penalty stroke and lost a chance to level the score at 4-4 just five minutes before the final whistle.
Playing to a strategy, Spain took a full measure of the Aussies by not only matching and at times, outplaying their opponents in man-to-man-marking, creating openings, defending their goal and launching counter attacks in a game of absorbing hockey.
Spain took the lead in the 20th minute when Xavier Gispert latched on to a defence lapse to dispatch home a neat deflection into the goal to the great surprise of the Asussies. Enthused by the gallant display by Spain, the nearly half packed stadium roared to glory as Spain consolidated its lead in the 24th minute, this time it was Marc Recasens who got past the Australian custodian Andrew Charter.
As the teams were heading for the interval, Australia stormed back into the game, scoring first in the dying moments of the first half through Flynn Ogilvie. Continuing from where they left, the Aussies were in full flow after change of ends as they scored thrice in next seven minutes to take a strong grip on the game by increasing its lead to 4-2.
Goal scorers for Australia in this blitzkrieg were skipper Aran Zalewski followed by two brilliant penalty corner conversions by Jeremy Hayward in the 33rd and 37th minutes.
Four minutes after conceding three second half goals, Spain had some consolation in scoring its first penalty corner goal of the game through skipper Marc Miralles.
When it looked Australia would wrap up the match after initial hiccups, Spain came back strongly and earned a stroke in the 56th minute. Enrique Gonzalez had his stick checked while attempting a goal bound shoot. By that time, luck had left Spain and skipper Marc Miralles who took the stroke failed to beat Andrew Charter in the goal. This save probably got Andrew man of the match award.