Hockey World Cup 2018: Spain vs New Zealand - 5 Talking Points
The 2018 Hockey World Cup, being held at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, is turning out to be a box full of surprises. From China's back to back draws to the surprises given by teams like France and Canada, each and every encounter has been unpredictable.
An equally interesting match came up between Spain and New Zealand, which would decided which of the two teams would proceed to the next round. Spain had narrowly lost to Argentina, and made a draw with a rather weak France, while New Zealand had narrowly won against France before losing rather badly to Argentina.
Led by goalkeeper cum captain Quico Cortes, Spain had it rather easy in the first half. Two back to back goals by Albert Beltran and Alvaro Iglesias, followed by some brilliant skills displayed by the Spanish team, made it look as if the Black Sticks were to be eliminated from the competition. However, New Zealand had other plans.
Refusing to give up despite being pushed back by 0-2 in the first 3 quarters, New Zealand switched their gears and went all out in the final quarter, attacking from every side possible. Stunned by the onslaught of the New Zealand, Spain struggled to keep their momentum, and finally gave in in the 50th minute, when Hayden Phillips struck the first goal.
If this wasn't enough, drag flicker Kane Russell smashed a penalty corner into the Spanish goal in the 56th minute, and not only rescued New Zealand from possible elimination, but also helped them to move into the crossover. Instead, it was Spain, who was eliminated, when France shocked Olympic champions Argentina by 5-3 in a nail biting thriller that followed soon after their own match.
#5 Spain's early attack rattles New Zealand
Right from the word go, Spain was on a roll. This was a must win match for the Spaniards, who hadn't progressed to the next round of the World Cup since the edition held at Monchengladbach in 2006. Led by goalkeeper cum captain Quico Cortes, the Spaniards shocked New Zealand with their intensive attacks from the word go.
Spain struck goal with the first quarter, when Albert Beltran struck past the Kiwi defence in the 9th minute with a crisp field goal, giving Spain a crucial lead of 1-0. If this wasn't enough. Alvaro Iglesias extended the lead in the 27th minute with another brilliant field goal, giving Spain a lead of 2-0.
The early attack not only left New Zealand rattled, but also made them struggle for three full quarters, as they were unable to find even a small chink in the Spanish armor that they could exploit to their advantage.