FIH Pro League: Spain pulls rug from under feet of the visiting Dutch
The FIH Pro League action moved from New Zealand to Spain for the day's final game, as a packed Estadio Betero in Valencia played host to the men of Spain (WR:9) and Netherlands (WR:3). The Dutch - back on European soil after a successful trip to Oceania where they beat New Zealand and claimed a shoot-out victory over Australia - opened up a 2-0 advantage in a fast-paced, end-to-end first quarter. Thierry Brinkman was on hand to finish off some fine work from Terrance Pieters before Mirco Pruijser smashed home an opportunistic effort on his backhand after the Red Sticks defence were caught in possession.
The Oranje continued to look the more dangerous team throughout the second and third quarters, with their hard work eventually being rewarded when Jelle Galema guided a perfect deflection past Spain goalkeeper Quico Cortes to put the World Cup finalists 3-0 up. It was a goal that sparked a reaction from Spain, with Xavi Lleonart hitting the post before veteran attacker Pau Quemada pulled a goal back with a close range strike just before the end of the third quarter.
Spanish hopes of a comeback further increased with nine minutes remaining thanks to Albert Beltran, who produced a stunning deflection into the roof of the Dutch goal to make it 3-2 and set up a thrilling finish. The Red Sticks won a trio of penalty corners at the end of the game, the third of which was fired home by Marc Serrahima to tie the match at 3-3 and force a shoot-out in dramatic fashion.
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Serrahima’s late equaliser had guaranteed Spain at least one point from the contest, but things were to get even better for the home favourites thanks largely to shot-stopper Cortes, who did enough to stop Pruijser, Brinkman and Pieters as the Red Sticks triumphed 3-1 in the shoot-out to claim a valuable bonus point.
“It was an amazing game”, said Man of the Match Alvaro Iglesias of Spain. “The first half was 100 percent for them [Netherlands], they had a lot of chances and we had a few, but we were not that sharp. In the second half we made our chances, we fought and finally we made it 3-3 and beat them in the shoot-outs.”
Despite missing out on the bonus point, the Netherlands remain third in the men’s FIH Pro League standings, with Germany in fourth, Spain in sixth and New Zealand in seventh position
- PTC NEWS