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Germany rally to hold Spain

January 14, 2004 16:24 IST

Three penalty-corner conversions in the last 18 minutes saw Germany pull off a sensational 4-4 draw with Spain after trailing 1-4 in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

World champions Germany, still smarting from their 3-4 defeat to Pakistan in their previous game, gave a mediocre performance in the first-half as the Spaniards raced to a 4-1 lead at the break through goals by Santiago Freixa (4th, 31st, 35th) and Pol Amat (28th).

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But Germany came surging back late in the game as Florian Kunz (52nd and 66th) and Bjoern Michel (69th) scored off penalty-corners to add to Benjamin Koepp's 11th minute strike.

The draw took Germany's tally to 10 points from five while Spain moved to five from as many outings.

Spain paid the price for complacency after going into half-time leading 4-1. In fact, they brought on skipper and playmaker Juan Escarre only in the last quarter to fortify their defence. But, by then, the Germans were in full flow.

Arnold Clemens of Germany, rated the world's best goalkeeper, did not lend credence to his reputation. He was directly responsible for the Spanish goals as he let in balls that even a schoolboy would have stopped.

Early in the game, Clemens did not spot Freixa, who received Victor Sojo's pass from the left and scored the first goal. After Koepp had equalised for Germany, deflecting a pass from Christoph Bechmann, Clemens totally misread Amat's try to the second angle from the right and allowed the ball to go between his pads and on to the board.

Close to half-time, Spain were gifted a penalty-corner when Justus Scharowsky breached the five-yard rule during a free-hit. The umpire awarded a penalty corner that Freixa converted with a carpet shot. Freixa made it 4-1 seconds before the break on a long ball from midfield, dodging past a couple of defenders to score.

Clemens were replaced by Christian Schulte four minutes into the second-half, but, by then, far too much damage was done or so it appeared.

As the Spaniards turned leaden-footed, the towering Kunz converted a penalty-corner to narrow the deficit (2-4).

Encouraged by the success, the Germans persisted and forced three more penalty-corners, two of which they brought to account through Kunz and Michel to force an improbable draw.

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