A hat trick from Lola Riera ensured that World League Round 2 hosts Spain booked themselves a place in the tournament Semi Finals thanks to a stunning 5-3 victory over Belarus. Riera struck in the 3rd, 16th (both PCs) and 53rd (PS) minute to help her team claim second place in the final standings behind Italy, who confirmed their Semi Final spot earlier in the day with a hard earned 1-0 win against Ireland.
Spain came into the match knowing that only a victory in regulation time would be enough to see them through to the third round of the World League, and began the match in electrifying fashion. Lola Riera slammed home a penalty corner after just three minutes to give the Spaniards the perfect start, a lead which was doubled when the same player struck again midway through the half. The stunned Belarusians hit back with a field goal from Natassia Syrayezhka in the 21st minute, but two goals in quick succession Raquel Huertas and Georgina Oliva gave Spain a huge 4-1 lead at the break.
Bealarus fought for their lives in the second half, and pulled the score back to 4-3 thanks to open play strikes from Krestina Kulinkovich (44m) and a second from Syrayezhka (52m) which had the potential to set up a thrilling finale. However, Spain knocked the wind out of the Belarusian sails just a minute later when Riera completed her hat-trick from the penalty spot, giving her team the victory and that all important berth in Round 3.
Earlier in the day, Italy secured its spot in the Hockey World League Semi-Finals after earning a hard-fought 1-0 win against Ireland. Elisabetta Pacella’s goal with 15 minutes left in the game was the decider in a nerve-filled match where neither team wanted to be the one to make the critical mistake. The berth to the next round of the World League was a minor surprise as Italy entered the tournament as the third-seeded team, while Ireland enjoyed top billing, although it was a mere three World Ranking places that separated the two teams. More information about that match can be found by clicking here.
Results – Day 5
Italy 1-0 Ireland
Spain 5-3 Belarus
5: Czech Republic
For more information about the competition including a full list of results and league tables, please click here.
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