With the result, it qualifies for the knock-out stages of the Men’s Hockey World Cup. World no. 8 Spain scored two field goals in the opening two quarters through Albert Beltran (9th minute) and Alvaro Iglesias (27th) to go into the halfway break with a comfortable 2-0 lead. But the Black Sticks made a stupendous comeback in the final 10 minutes of the game and scored through Hayden Phillips (50th) and Kane Russell (56th) to share the spoils, securing their place in the cross-over round of the tournament.
As per the format of the event, the top teams from four pools will directly qualify for the quarter-finals while the second and third placed sides will play cross-over matches against teams of other pools for the remaining four ‘last eight’ berths. In the encounter between Spain and New Zealand, it was the Black Sticks who had the first shy at goal in the sixth minute, but Hugo Inglis’ strike from close range was saved by Spain captain and goalkeeper Quico Cortes.
It was Spain which struck first when Beltran scored off a through ball from Pau Quemada. Thereafter, both teams made a couple of good moves, but they lacked the final touch inside the box. Spain earned its first penalty corner in the 25th minute, but failed to utilise the opportunity. It extended its lead in the 27th minute when Iglesias scored from close range in the midst of a crowd of NZ defenders from a Ricardo Santana feed.
After an uneventful third quarter, New Zealand pulled a goal back in the 50th minute through Phillips, who received a pass from Inglis on the left side and took his time to smash it into the roof of the net. Pumped by the goal, New Zealand went all out in search of the equaliser and four minutes away from the final hooter, its efforts bore fruit when Russell found the back of the net from Black Sticks’ only penalty corner of the match.
In the second encounter, France stunned Olympic champion Argentina 5-3 to cause the biggest upset of the tournament in its must-win clash. France needed an outright win to qualify for the cross-overs and it came out with intent to achieve the goal. It ended its pool engagements in second spot behind topper Argentina (6 points) on four points on account of a better goal difference than New Zealand (4 points).