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India go down to Spain

July 03, 2005 19:55 IST

India went into a tailspin and crashed to a 0-4 defeat to a resurgent Spain in their opening Group E match of the Rabobank Junior World Cup hockey tournament in Rotterdam, on Sunday.

Looking a shadow of the team that beat The Netherlands 4-1 last night, the Indians paid the price for highly individualistic play and glaring defensive errors that the crafty Spaniards exploited to the hilt.

Skipper David Alegre did the star turn for Spain whose performance in the preliminary league barely did justice to their top ranking in the tournament.

Alegre first converted a fourth minute penalty stroke that followed a stick-check offense by Dhananjay Mahadik to put Spain ahead 1-0.

In the 45th minute, Alegre capped a right-wing counter-attack with a stunning reverse hit to the boards. In between, Sergio Enrique picked up a rebound from a penalty corner in the 28th for the second goal.

Later, Juan Lainz flicked home a pass from Hector Martinez who had broken through from the right, past a jittery Sandeep Singh, in the 57th.

It was India's first defeat in four matches after having come through the preliminary league with an unbeaten record. But against Spain, the Indians hardly put a foot right as they seemed to play from memory.

India's deep defence left far too many gaps due to poor marking while there was little co-ordination between the half-backs and the forwards almost all of whom were guilty of playing an individual game.

In the event, India were as much responsible for their heavy loss as Spain's one-touch game that saw them outflank the rivals with a series of long and accurate passes.

Spain thus avenged their 2-3 loss to India in the last month's four-nation tournament in Bilbao.

Earlier, in Pool F, Pakistan slipped to a 0-2 defeat against Germany who scored on either side of the break through Thilo Stralkowski (26th) and Sebastian Draguhn (55th).

The Pakistanis were distinctly off-colour and as in their previous matches, struggled to put together an effective combination. The Germans played a waiting game and when the chances came their way, capitalised on them.

Meanwhile, an inspired Malaysia forced a 3-3 draw with fancied Australia, also in Pool F, thanks to a hat-trick by their penalty corner specialist Zulfiki Mohd Rejab (6th, 45th, 63rd).

However, Rejab failed with the set-piece in the final minute that could have given Malaysian an unexpected victory.

The Aussies did not display the sort of form they had in the preliminary league and looked at odds against a team that was fired up.

Infact, the Aussies trailed by a goal until the 27th when Colin Hennessey scored his ninth goal of the tournament for the equaliser.

However, the Malaysians went 2-1 ahead, a lead they guarded until the 58th. At this stage, the Aussies struck twice in quick succession through Mark Knowles (58th) and Thomas Cleghorn (61st) for a 3-2 lead before the Malaysians equalised.


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