India held 1-1 by Spain in six-nation hockey meet

Valencia: India were held to a 1-1 draw by Spain in their final match of the six-nation invitational hockey tournament here on Sunday. Pau Quemada scored in the 10th minute of the tie for the hosts while V.R. Raghunath netted India’s equaliser in the 18th minute. India started off on the front foot early in the game and had a penalty corner as early as the fifth minute, which was saved by experienced Spain goalkeeper Quico Cortes. The action shifted ends very quickly though. From the counter-attack, Spain earned a penalty corner which brought out a sharp save from P.R. Sreejesh. The see-saw nature of the match went on, India in the ascendancy, won another penalty corner, saved again by Cortes who was also at hand to put away Talwinder Singh’s attempt from the rebound. From there though, Spain started exerting a bit of control over the game and soon made the pressure count. A penalty corner was saved on the line by Sreejesh before an infringement off a defender, earned Spain a stroke. Quemada scored to give Spain the lead as they went into the break. India came out much the same in the second quarter, constantly probing, pushing but Cortes was always up to the task, deflecting the efforts away with sharp saves. In the 18th minute though, Raghunath finally made one count, breaking through to draw the teams level. With a minute of the first half left, India had another glorious chance, again from a penalty corner, but Cortes again pulled off a double stop to ensure the two teams went into half time with the scores even at 1-1. In the second half, India started taking more control of the ball, and exerted pressure on the Spanish flanks, as they sat deep looking to pounce on the counter. Much of it though was thwarted away by Spain. In the final quarter, India pushed higher up the pitch and created waves of attack as Spain struggled to keep the honours even.  With barely seconds left, India came closest to getting the lead, but the effort hit the crossbar and fell safely to leave the two teams with an equal share of the points.