The Indian men’s hockey team went down fighting 2-1 against Spain in their opening match of the four-nation Torneo del Centenario 2023 in Terrassa, Spain on Tuesday.
A penalty corner from Cunill Pau (11’) and a field goal through the stick of Joaquin Menini (33’) made sure Spain started the 100th Anniversary Spanish Hockey Federation International Tournament 2023 on a winning note.
Indian captain Harmanpreet Singh scored through a penalty corner in the 59th minute but it wasn’t enough.
The Indian hockey team, ranked fourth in the world, played the possession game in the opening minutes of the match but it was Spain that came close to scoring twice. The hosts went deep into the Indian circle on both occasions but couldn’t find the finishing touch.
World No. 7 Spain slowly upped their attack as the first quarter progressed and broke the deadlock with their second penalty corner of the match. Cunill Pau drag-flicked through the legs of Indian goalkeeper Krishan Pathak to make it 1-0.
The second quarter saw a renewed Indian attack as the visitors pushed the hosts on the backfoot with a high-pressing game. Spain, in turn, defended in numbers to thwart the surging Indian frontline.
Harmanpreet Singh-led India earned their first penalty corner in the 23rd minute but Spain’s charging defence did well to deny the drag flick. Spain went into halftime with a one-goal lead.
Spain doubled their lead early into the third quarter as Joaquin Menini snuck behind Harmanpreet Singh in the circle to tap in the ball from a long pass.
India, however, responded brilliantly and kept pressing forward to get their footing back into the game. The Spanish hockey team defence was also equal to the task and maintained a clean sheet despite a prolonged attacking spell from the Indian side.
The start of the final quarter saw a flurry of penalty corners go Spain’s way but none were converted, courtesy of a splendid effort from the Indian defence, especially Amit Rohidas.
With a two-goal cushion, Spain slowed the pace of the hockey match and controlled the majority of the possession in the final period.
India committed more players to the front and even substituted their goalkeeper. The move paid off immediately as Harmanpreet Singh converted a PC.
However, it was too little too late for India as Spain ended as the winners.
India will play the Netherlands in the next 100th Anniversary Spanish Hockey Federation – International Tournament match on Wednesday.