Men’s FIH Pro League: India come from behind to win 5-4 against Spain

Harmanpreet Singh scored a penalty stroke in the dying seconds of the final quarter to win the match for India.

The Indian hockey team overturned a 1-4 deficit to register an impressive 5-4 win against Spain in the Men’s FIH Pro League 2021-22 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha on Saturday.

The inspired effort from the Indian men’s hockey team was led by Harmanpreet Singh (13’, 60’) who scored the opening goal and the last-minute winner for the home side. Shilanand Lakra (41’), Shamsher Singh (43’) and Varun Kumar (55’) were also on the scoresheet.

For Spain, captain Marc Miralles scored a hat-trick (20’, 23’, 40’) while Pau Cunill (14’) netted once.

India have now won four of their five matches in the FIH Pro League and are second on the points table with 12 points.

The match against Spain saw Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist India dominating possession in the first 10 minutes.

The Men in Blue almost scored the first goal of the night but Harmanpreet Singh’s searing drag flick was overturned for dangerous play.

The action then moved to the other end of the field, and it was Spain who opened the scoring when Pau Cunill converted a penalty corner in the 14th minute.

India, however, pulled one back in the dying seconds of the opening quarter through a Harmanpreet Singh penalty corner, ending the first 15 minutes at 1-1.

The scoreline, however, changed twice in the second quarter in favour of the visitors.

Spanish captain Marc Miralles first slotted his blistering drag-flick in the back of the net in the 20th minute and three minutes later, converted a penalty stroke, which was awarded after Mandeep Mor’s rash challenge inside the circle.

Despite trailing 3-1, the Indian hockey team kept pressing high, but the Spanish defence did well to keep the home team from scoring any more in the first half.

The visitors looked much more confident with their attacks in the third quarter and added another goal in the 40th minute. Marc Miralles brought up his hat-trick through a penalty corner, making it 4-1.

From there on, the third quarter belonged to India.

Manpreet Singh and Co. fought back brilliantly as Shilanand Lakra scored a field goal and Shamsher Singh fired in a deflected penalty corner to make it 4-3 at the end of the penultimate quarter.

The Graham Reid-coached Indian side’s high press earned them two penalty corners early in the final quarter but both attempts were thwarted by Spain.

India’s constant attacks bore fruit in the 55th minute when Varun Kumar, making his 100th appearance for India, scored the equaliser through a penalty corner.

The home team continued their attack-oriented strategy throughout the final quarter. But despite India’s efforts, Spain held their fort.

With only seconds remaining on the clock, India launched one last attack and Spain succumbed under pressure to give away a penalty stroke.

Harmapreet Singh effortlessly slotted the ball in the bottom right corner to give India a 5-4 win.

India will face Spain in the second leg on Sunday.

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