|March 1st, 2013|
|6||Round Robin||12:00pm||ITA - ESP||1 - 1 (0 - 0) (3 - 4 PS)||Final|
Two World Ranking points separate #15 Spain and #17 Italy and it was clear today that two teams are very much on par with each other as they battled to a 1-1 draw that had to be settled in a shootout which Spain won 4-3. The game was critical in the standings with Italy holding two points after playing one game and Spain sitting with three. The win bumps Spain now into second place in the standings and improves their chances for making a push for the Hockey World League Semi-Finals.
With only the top two finishers from Valencia moving onto the next round, and a very competitive field, today’s game between Italy and Spain had a lot riding on it. It was clear from a tentative first half that both teams wanted to error on the side of caution. The biggest chance came midway through the first half when Spain was awarded a penalty stroke. But Italian goalkeeper Martin Chirico came up with a big pad save on the try and kept the scoreboard sitting on zeros through the end of the first half.
In the second half, it was Italy with the better chances, but they kept missing the mark by mere inches – allowing the Spanish to stay in the hunt for the precious points. Italy’s persistence finally paid off in the form of a penalty stroke Giulia Padalino did what Spain failed to do in the first half and easily hit the low corner for the 1-0 lead with 18 minutes left in the game.
Spain sparked to life after the goal and after missing two consecutive penalty corner chances Rocio Ybarra Solaijn scooped a shot into the net for the 1-1 equalizer with six minutes left in the game. The 1-1 deadlock stood through regulation sending the game into a shootout. The shootout went seven rounds, as the teams were event to the bitter end.
Italy will take on winless Czech Republic tomorrow in a game that they should win if they want to stay in contention for a top-two finish. Meanwhile, Spain has a tough test against top-seeded Ireland, who was a big favorite entering the tournament, but sputtered in a loss on Monday against Belarus.