Junior Hockey World Cup: India beats Spain to enter semi-finals, faces Australia today
India will meet Australia in the semi-final on Friday. Belgium meet reigning champions Germany in the first semi-final.
Favourites Indian team made its way to semifinals by defeating the Spain in the margin 2-1 in the men's Junior Hockey World Cup, in Lucknow. The hosts will meet Australia in the semi-final on Friday.
Belgium meet reigning champions Germany in the first semi-final. India topped their pool comprising England, South Africa and Canada.
Major Dhyan Chand Stadium stadium hauled a sigh of relief when Simranjeet Singh (57th) equalised for India after Marc Serrahima gave Spain the lead in the 22nd minute.
The Indians earned nine penalty corners but could utilise just two with Harmanpreet converting the hosts' eighth set piece in the 66th minute to clinch a last-four berth.
In the first half, Indians looked completely off-colour. There was a distinct lack of co-ordination. There were sloppy mistakes while trapping and releasing the ball during the first half. Spain came out with a tight defensive structure and relied on man marking to stop the attacking Indians.
Spain then took the lead in the 22nd minute through Serrahima's penalty corner conversion much to the stunned silence of the partisan crowd.
After the change of ends, the Indians went all out attacking in search of goals but failed due to miss passing and miss-trapping.
Four minutes into second half, Spain almost extended their lead but custodian Vikas Dahiya came to his side's rescue to deny Serrahima.
The Indians continued to attack but goals eluded them as Spanish goalkeeper Perez came up with a double save to deny Armaa Qureshi first and then Manpreet (Jr) from the rebound.
Nilkanta Sharma then came close in the 53rd minute but his deflection from Harmanpreet's defence-splitting pass went just wide of the goal.
In the 57th minute from their fifth penalty corner, India marched towards semi-finals.