Spain’s Red Sticks kept their Olympic hopes alive after getting the better end on New Zealand’s Black Sticks
Spain’s Red Sticks kept their Olympic hopes alive after getting the better end on New Zealand’s Black Sticks in the 5th place playoff of the Argentina Hockey World League Semi-Final in Buenos Aires. Albert Beltran, Gabriel Dabanch and Andres Mir were the goal-scoring heroes at this 3-1 win. Earlier, Korea had narrowly defeated Japan 1-0 to take seventh place. The game-winning goal was scored by You Hyosik in the second quarter.
Match 31: 5th place playoff Spain v New Zealand 3-1 (1-1)
New Zealand entered the match with intense focus and convincingly grabbed the lead through a phenomenal goal scored by Simon Child (13’). The Black Sticks captain found the net after great work by George Muir.
The Red Sticks found a gap to force the equaliser when Albert Beltran (26’) slotted home the rebound of a Jordi Carrera penalty corner flick. The score was tied at 1-1 at halftime and Spain came out sharp scoring after 43 seconds. Gabriel Dabanch deflected a pass coming from Manel Terraza (31’) to give his Red Sticks the lead.
The lead gave Spain confidence to push forward. The Red Sticks had more ball possession and created a few more promising opportunities in the third quarter they could not capitalize on. New Zealand forced a penalty corner at the end of the third quarter but Xavi Lleonart managed to block the shot.
The last quarter saw the Black Sticks earning a penalty corner but again, they were unable to get the shot away. With the minutes ticking down, Spain defended well and focussed on counter-attacks. New Zealand took full risk and replaced their goalkeeper Devon Manchester by an 11th field player but the effort did not pay off.
Instead, Spain were winning possession and Andres Mir (56’) pushed the ball into the empty goal to secure the 3-1 victory.
Thoughts on the match
Gabriel Dabanch (ESP)
“My goal came in a very important moment. We were pushing really hard before this but couldn’t score. This was very important for the game. We had to win today to keep our chances open to qualify for the Olympics and we still believe in it.”
Colin Batch (NZL)
“We started very well and had a good first half but then we didn’t perform when the pressure came on and we need to learn how to do this. We didn’t play collectively in the important moments of the game. This is something we need to develop further. Our next step is to try to qualify through the Oceania Cup and we know that were are capable of doing this.”
Match 30: 7th place playoff Korea v Japan 1-0 (1-0)
Korea narrowly defeated Japan 1-0 to take seventh place at the Argentina Hockey World League Semi-Final in Buenos Aires. The game-winning goal was scored by You Hyosik in the second quarter.
The match was goalless after the first quarter but Korea took the lead five minutes into the second quarter with a goal from You Hyosik (20’). The world’s number eight dominated play throughout the second quarter, but went into halftime with just a narrow 1-0 lead.
Japan fought hard to level the score in the third quarter but the solid Korean defence led by Lee Seunghoon kept every attempt at bay. The Samurais tried everything to get on the scoreboard, replacing their goalkeeper Katsuya Takase with another field player.
Kenta Tanaka could have scored with 20 seconds left on the clock but his shot hit the outside of the post. So You’s goal remained the only one in this game sealing the Korean victory.
Thoughts on the match
You Hyosik (KOR)
“We can be satisfied with today’s match but not with the whole tournament. We came here to finish within in the top three but we failed. However, I think this tournament was a very good experience for our team. We need to keep on working now and look forward to play in the 2016 Champions Trophy.”
Ippei Fujimoto (JPN)
“This event was a very good experience for Japan Hockey but the result is not satisfying for us. We now need to focus on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. We will work hard for it. I’m 25 years old now, so it’s my personal goal to participate in 2020.”