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Spain beat Pakistan; enter final
December 10, 2004 15:57 IST
Lost opportunities returned to haunt Pakistan as Spain beat them 3-0 in a thrilling encounter to cruise into the final of the Champions Trophy hockey tournament at Lahore on Friday.
Spain, who had knocked Pakistan out of the medal race in the Athens Olympics, dashed the hosts' hopes of qualifying to the final by notching up the victory at the National Stadium.
Pakistan came up with an inspirational show in the first half but the Spaniards took the honours after scoring through Alex Fabregas (47th minute), David Alegre (53rd) and Santiago Freixa (69th).
"It's not a hopeless performance but a hopeless result. It was a good show in the first half but things somehow did not materialise as per planning after the break," Pakistan coach Roelant Oltmans said after the match.
"It was not a team game in the second half when all the players wanted to be a hero on their own," he said.
This was Spain's first ever entry into the final of the elite event.
Pakistan had themselves to blame for the loss as they made a mess of the chances that came their way throughout the match, particularly in the first half.
"First 15 minutes they [Pakistan forwards] were coming from all the sides. They created the chances but could not put the ball in. Our defence did a great job to prevent them from scoring," Spain coach Maurits Hendriks said.
The first half showing raised hopes of Pakistan's chances of reaching the final, but as the match progressed their performance deteriorated with Spain slowly but steadily taking control of the proceedings.
The home side, struggling to contain the Spaniards on resumption, conceded the lead when Fabregas converted a penalty stroke, which was awarded when a defender was hit on the body on the goalline from an attempt from a penalty corner.
Pakistan tried hard for the equaliser but instead they suffered a serious blow when Saqlain Muhammad was temporarily suspended for a foul on Victor Sojo, seconds after conceding the goal.
Taking advantage of a 10-man Pakistan team, Spain slammed home from a penalty corner for their second goal when Alegre converted the set piece.
The Spaniards then sealed the fate of the match with Freixa striking a great goal.
Freixa, who has been voted world's most promising player, got into the circle from the right and turned for the reverse stick shot that went past goalkeeper Salman Akbar and into the top left corner of the goal.