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South Africa lose to Spain
March 04, 2004 10:33 IST
Last Updated: March 04, 2004 11:02 IST
A questionable penalty corner goal sealed the fate of South Africa as they went down 1-2 to Spain in a crucial Pool 'A' game in the Olympic men's hockey qualifying tournament in Madrid on Wednesday.
The South Africans did not deserve to lose for they matched Spain move for move. They took an early lead when Steve Evans found the net from a Gregg Clark centre following a lightning counter-attack in the sixth minute.
A desperate Spain drew level just before half-time as Santiago Freixa converted a penalty corner in the 29th minute.
Thereafter, the South Africans, who had lost 2-4 to Holland on Tuesday, played with great determination and looked certain to force a draw, but a questionable penalty corner, 25 seconds from the close, undid all their good work. Spain took their time and Xavier Ribas converted to give his team a 2-1 verdict.
The victory took Spain's tally to six points from two wins while the South Africans remain without a point after two outings.
South Africa played their hearts out and with their goalkeeper Chris Hibbert repeatedly thwarting Spanish attempts, a draw looked very much on the cards.
Spain looked a shadow of the side that had displayed awesome firepower against Japan and with the South Africans gaining in confidence with each passing minute, stood up well to the Spanish onslaughts thanks to a well-organised defence.
The Spanish players celebrated the victory as if they had won the Olympic gold medal while the South Africans fell to the ground, some even shedding tears.
In the last match of the day, defending Olympic champions The Netherlands crushed Great Britian 3-0 to record their second straight win. They had beaten South Africa 5-1 in their first match on Tuesday.
Taeke Taekema scored the first goal for the Dutch through a penalty corner in the 4th minute.
Teun de Nooijer then made it 2-0 with a field goal in the 32nd minute, and Sander van der Weide completed the rout with the third goal in the 65th minute.
With this win, The Netherlands, who are level on points with Spain, top Pool 'A' with a better goal difference.
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