|July 30th, 2012|
|3||Pool A||1:45pm||ESP - PAK||1 - 1 (0 - 0)||Final||x 3|
Silver medallists from Beijing Spain, ranked 5th in the FIH World Rankings, opened their 2012 Olympic campaign against Pakistan, ranked 3 rows behind them. It took the two teams a while to settle down, with many turn-overs and unforced errors on both sides in the opening 10 minutes. The first chance was for Pakistan on penalty-corner, and Sohail Abbas, the master in this exercise, nearly hit the target, his powerful flick barely deflected on the crossbar by Francisco Cortes in the Spanish goal.
Spain was equally unsuccessful a few minutes later at the other end, with Pakistan salvaged by a superb stick save on the line by Muhammad Irfan. Neither team could take control of play, making for an exciting match with attacks flowing swiftly back and forth. Spain tried to develop collective moves, but the Pakistani were closing very quickly on them, leaving them no time to manoeuver. Pakistan used their speed to mount speedy counter-attacks and created good chances.
Spain had a tough time containing Pakistan in the closing stages of the period, but survived to reach half-time on a goalless score.
The contest got very heated in second period, with still nobody able to assume domination for a sustained period of time. Then the floodgates opened briefly and the crowd was treated to two splendid goals in less than one minute, first by Rehan Butt at the conclusion of a counter-attack that pierced the Spanish defense, then immediately after by Pau Quemada hammering in goal a long pass from midfield with a stunning reverse stick shot.
In the last 15 minutes, both teams had chances to make the break, but consistently struggled in the last pass or final shot. No more goals were scored and the match ended on a draw (1-1) which is a good result for Pakistan but might hurt Spain’s chances to reach the semi-finals.
Rehan BUTT, goal-scorer in Pakistan's 1-1 draw in the Pool A match against Spain, On the outcome of the match:"We are very happy with the outcome, we're happy with a draw. We played very well in the game. Spain is a favourite team and Pakistan is ranked 8th or 9th (8th) so it was a good opening game for us and we're happy with the result. We stuck to our plan."
On the slow start to the game: "Spain has a very quick and good turn-over, and we knew this so we tried to control the game by playing it at our pace. We were under a lot of pressure from Spain in the first half."
On team spirit within the Pakistan team:
"The team spirit is very high. We're very happy with the draw, and once we had scored the first goal, that did a lot for our team and gave us confidence. We are hoping to place on the podium at the Olympics - we want a medal. Now we just have to focus on the games we have coming up."