Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup: France muffs penalty stroke and chance to beat Spain
France was unlucky to miss a stroke and had to contend for a 1-1 draw with more fancied Spain in a pool A match of the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Monday. The draw, the third from as many matches of round II of pool matches, keeps both the teams in the run for a berth in the knock out round.
Quico Cortes, goalkeeper of Spain, who was adjudged the man of the match, was the darling of his team as it was his heroic effort of thwarting a penalty stroke by France, nine minutes from the final whistle, to prevent his team from losing the game.
Spain were lucky in the manner that it got the equalizer in the 48th minute even after all its attempts to restore parity through penalty corners misfired. It had seven penalty corners and also one of the best drag flickers Pau Quemada in its ranks. But nothing worked against spirited France that had taken the lead in the 6th minute through 18-year-old Timothee Clement.
It was in the 48th minute that Iglesias Alvaro had scored a brilliant field goal to restore parity for Spain.
French players played the game of their lives as they tried to stand up to wiles and experience of their more fancied and experienced opponents. The only regret for French players was their missing the stroke. Though Hugo Genestet took a low flick on the right side of the goal, Cortes dived in time to deflect out the shot to the great relief of Spain, three times medalist in previous editions of World Cups, winning Silver medals in 1971 (as hosts) and again in Utrecht (1998) besides a bronze in 2006.
France has never won a World Cup medal.
Spain had won six of last 10 encounters between the two nations while France won on two occasions and remaining two had ended in draws. Spain scored 32 goals and conceded 20 in previous encounters.
This game was of added significance as both had lost their opening pool A games. While Spain had gone down fighting to Argentina 3-4, French were beaten 1-2 by New Zealand.
Now Spain has to play New Zealand and France takes on Argentina in their last pool game on December 6.
Man of the match: Quico Cortes (Spain)