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New Zealand stage stunning comeback to hold Spain 2-2 in Hockey World Cup

Trailing 0-2 till the 50th minute, New Zealand staged a stunning comeback by pounding two goals in six minutes to hold Spain to 2-2 draw in their last Pool A league match of the Men's Hockey World Cup at Kalinga Stadium here today.
 
For Spain, Albert Beltran (9th) and Alvaro Iglesias (27th) scored a goal each to give their side a 2-0 lead but Hayden Phillips (50th) reduced the margin and then Kane Russell (56th) equalized for New Zealand.
 
The Kiwis with four points from three matches are assured to play cross over to decided their quarter-final fate. Spain with two points from three matches are very precariously placed.
 
Spain have themselves to blame for their fate. After dominating the game most of the time and leading 2-0 till ten minutes before the final whistle, they conceded the two goals and the advantage by defensive lapses.
 
With early elimination staring at them, a desperate Spain, having only one point from two outings, entered the field to win the last league match to remain relevant in this tournament.
 
Their plan was simple and focused: attack, attack and get the goals as quick and as many as possible. The Kiwis' citadel was all surrounded by the Red Sticks who seemed intent not to give any quarter to their rivals.
 
The two-time runners-up , after making several searching forays, struck in the ninth minute when Pau Quemada set up unmarked Albert Beltran from the middle. The striker intercepted the ball and moved into the circle to send the ball home (1-0).
 
The Kiwis' retaliation was furious, which caught the Spaniards on the wrong foot but speedy striker Marcus Child fumbled while taking the shot and his reverse hit went wide off the target. 
 
The black sticks tried to keep the momentum going but the Spaniards, battling for survival, did not allow them much space to move and kept them in their half.
 
Spain kept attacking from the centre and right flank with Enrique Gonzalez leading the charge but many a time he lost the advantage on the edge of the circle as he was not able to get past the defenders. 
 
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Spain had a chance to increase the lead as Diego Arana made a dash from the right but his shot was well anticipated by goalkeeper Richard Joyce, who positioned himself perfectly to foil the attempt.
 
Another chance was wasted when Ricardo Sanchez made a solo run from the left flank but Beltran in the penalty area failed to intercept his cross.
 
Spain earned a penalty corner in the 25th minute but instead of taking a direct crack they went for the variation and relayed it to Albert Beltran who was at the near post, but the youngster failed to trap the ball properly and the chance was wasted.
 
However, two minutes later Ricardo Santana created an opening and set up unmarked Alvaro Iglesias in the circle. The 25-year-old made no mistake and sent the ball into the cave (2-0).
 
A couple of minutes later, Spain would have been 3-0 but Enrique Gonzalez missed a superb chance set up by Alvaro Iglesias. Two minutes later, Xavi Lleonart made a fantastic dash and reached the penalty area. But New Zealand captain Blair Tarrant foiled that attack.
 
As the red sticks kept attacking, the Kiwis got out of their shell and launched a frontal attack and, right out of nowhere, they pulled one back.
 
Hayden Phillips received a pass from Hugo Inglis on the left side and he smashed it into the roof of the net (1-2). This happened in the 50th minute.
 
Six minutes later, the Kiwis equalised as Spain offered too much space on the right side and the Black Sticks were awarded a penalty corner. Kane Russell’s drag flick was right on the target (2-2).
 
The Red Sticks skipped a beat in the dying moments. Stephen Jenness was completely unmarked on the right side but his furious reverse hit, missed the target by a whisker.
 
NNN

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

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