The men’s hockey team dreamed of playing the semifinals of the World Cup in India until the last second. A hopeful scenario for the near future, unimaginable after the first phase and against a rival like Australia, number one in the world. But the nerve of the Redsticks surprised the aussie team, who snorted when the end of the game was reached. The ones of Max Caldas put 0-2then they saw how in just seven minutes the setting changed (4-2) and they had a penalty-stroke from Marc Miralles with four minutes to go at 4-3 that stopped the goal Charter, the MVP of the match. Australia will face the winner of Germany against England. Spain goes home proud and with a full backpack.
Spain, which had shown itself to be somewhat vulnerable in the four previous games, having conceded nine goals with serious defensive neglect, behaved like a group of Spartans on the track. They did not leave a loophole for the Australians, who began dominating possession but only found opportunities to take the lead through penalty-corners awarded by their wingers. In the 4th minute, Rafi saved the first shot. In minute 13 the goalkeeper once again established himself as the savior, just as he was thrown at with five seconds left to finish the first set. Spain had studied the Aussie launch very well. Covering the right and exposing the goal area, inspired at all times.
Little by little, with no room for Sharp or Govers to get comfortable on the inside, Australia’s high pressure cracked. And the fast young Spanish took advantage of it to progress and step on the 22-meter zone. Xavi Gispert, the Club Egara player, scored a sensational goal. He received outside the area, cut his defender, stepped on the area and crossed close to the post. 0-1, the dream was possible. And even more so a few minutes later, when Recasens, who had joined the attack, finished off a great collective play taking advantage of the spaces left by Australia. Even Lacalle was about to make it 0-3. He lacked centimeters to reach. The first two sets could not be round. With five seconds to go, and after Australia missed their fourth penalty-corner, Ogilvie picked up a rebound after a rebound in the area and did not forgive (1-2).
The 1-2 was a painkiller for the number one team in the world, which caught the trick on Spain and in just seven minutes turned the score around with three more goals. Zalewski caught a cross at the far post and tied (2-2). And Jeremy Hayward appeared to convert two penalty-corners. Australia modified the play and Spain could not counter it (4-2). A comeback by the champion of the Oceanics, who even scored 5-2 through Whetton but that the referee annulled due to an infraction thanks to the intervention of the VAR. Max Caldas’ men went for the tie, with nothing to lose. Marc Miralles, in the third consecutive penalty-corner, made it 4-3 with which he reached the end of the third quarter. Everything to decide.
The scenario was a dream for the Spanish team, with an average of 23 years and experiencing the first major championship for the bulk of the squad. The Redsticks, who showed a great physical level, kept up the pulse in defense and were around Andrew Charter’s goal, even Miralles had a penalty-stroke committed on Quique González that was saved by the goalkeeper. Australia played with time and Spain stayed on the shore. Very close to giving one of the great bells over Bhubaneswar. It was the first World Cup of a new generation called to return the Redsticks to international podiums in a future that, apparently, does not seem so distant.