Spain were superb on the wings and played a close-knit game to crush India 4-1 in a pool match of the FIH junior men's hockey World Cup here on Tuesday. Spain are leading Pool C with six points from two wins, while Korea are ahead of India on goal difference, with both sides having three points each. The fourth team in the pool, Canada, are yet to open their account after two losses. India will play their last pool match against Canada on Saturday. FIH Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup 2023: India Beat New Zealand 3–2 in Penalty Shoot Out at Thrilling Classification Match.
Uttam Singh's side, after starting the prestigious tournament on a high with a 4-2 victory against Korea in Pool C, were brought down to earth by the tactically superior Spain, who made full use of the opportunities and tightened their defence resolutely to deny India penalty corner conversions.
Cabre Verdiell Pol (1st, 41st min) and Rafi Andreas (18th, 60th) were on target for the Spaniards, while for India, the consolation goal came from the stick of Rohit, who converted a penalty corner in the 33rd minute. Most contests between India and Spain have gone to the wire but on Thursday, it seemed the 2016 junior World Cup champions were low on energy, conceding a goal in the very first minute of the contest.
Spain's searing pace helped them take the lead in the first minute itself when an unmarked Cabre took just 51 seconds to stun India. The forward, who was unmarked just in front of the India goalkeeper made a lovely deflection to give his side the lead. India tried rotating the mid-fielders following the jolt but were unable to find pierce the sturdy Spanish. Uttam's side did manage a few circle penetration with their aggressive play but the equaliser eluded them.
Just when India seemed to be finding their bearing, captain Rafi Andreas's powerful drag-flick from a penalty corner beat the goalkeeper all ends up, leaving the 2016 Lucknow edition champions looking for answers to break the stout Spanish defence.
India did pull one back in the 33rd minute after missing two PC opportunities in quick succession when Rohit slotted home the third to make it 1-2. But the joy was short-lived as Cabre struck his second goal of the match to regain the two-goal lead. Spain goalkeeper Capellades Jan stood out for his pluck and anticipation, saving at least 3-4 sure-shot strikes from Indian forwards. FIH Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023: Araijeet Singh Hundal’s Hat-Trick Secures India’s 4–2 Victory Against South Korea.
India earned three penalty corners between the 55th and 57th minutes but Capellades put his body on the line to deny them success. Spain earned a penalty stroke in the last minute and didn't miss the gilt-edged opportunity to add to India's miseries.
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