Friday, August 14, 2009


India's perennial habit of conceding last minute goal undid all the good work and the visitors went down 4-5 in their third and final hockey Test against Spain as a last minute strike from Albert Sala turned the tide in Spain's favour Wednesday night.

India did well to bounce back from a 0-4 deficit with strikes from Vikram Pillay (54th, 57th), Sardar Singh (28th) and Sandeep Singh (66th min).

Xavi Ribas (8th), Eduard Tabau (12th), David Alegre (25th), Alex Fabregas (27th) and Sala (70th) where on target for Spain.

The hosts began aggressively with constant raids on the Indian defence by Eduard Tabau and Xavi Lleonart supported by strong midfield overlaps.

In the eighth minute, India conceded a penalty corner when the ball struck skipper Sandeep Singh's foot. Ribas made no mistake in shooting past goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza.

The nervous Indians soon conceded another soft goal as Tabau breached the defence of Sandeep and Sardar Singh and beat D'Souza in the 12th minute.

Rattled by these early setbacks, the Indian defence and mid-field started playing well but forwards Prabhjot Singh, Gurvinder Chandi and Rajpal Singh were unable to penetrate the Spanish defence.

Spain increased the lead after encashing on a counter attack which won them their second of four penalty corners. David Alegre converted from an indirect set piece.

The Spanish domination in first half was complete as Alex Fabregas picked up a loose ball in the centre and bang home in the 27th minute to give them a 4-0 lead.

A minute later, India found their first goal through Sardar Singh after a good move orchestrated by Dhananjay Mahadik and S.V. Sunil.

In the second half India came back with well coordinated onslaughts.

They reduced the margin in the 54th minute after a combination sortie by Shivendra Singh and Chandi and Pillay slotted past Cortes.

Pillay struck again three minutes later and converted a penalty stroke as India reduced the margin to 3-4.

Sandeep struck the last goal for India in the 66th minute after a good move from Rajpal and Arjun Halappa.

In the last minute of play, Sala struck to give Spain a 5-4 win.

India now travel to Amsterdam for the final leg of their European tour where they will play two matches against the Netherlands.