Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Formidable Australia made it to the semifinals of the FIH Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 after scraping past a fighting Spain, 4-3 in the first quarterfinal match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.

Spirited Spain fought well against the mighty Australians and gave them a good scare. However, the experienced Australians prevailed in the end and marched into the last four as the first team of the marquee event.

While the in-form Jeremy Hayward scored two penalty corners (32nd and 36th minutes) for the Australians, Flynn Ogilvie (29th minute) and Aran Zalewski (31st minute) struck a field goal each.

On the other hand, Xavier Gispert (19th minute) and Marc Recasens (23rd minute) scored a field goal each for Spain. Marc Miralles (40th minute) converted a penalty corner.

The first quarter ended barren despite aggressive hockey by the Australians. They earned as many as three penalty corners in the third, twelfth and fourteenth minutes, but failed to capitalize on those.

In the second quarter, Spain was got more opportunities as Xavier Gispert and Marc Recasens struck twice through brilliant field goals in the 19th and 23rd minutes respectively despite the dominance of the Australians. Australia earned their fourth PC in the 22nd minute, but failed to capitalize. Flynn Ogilvie struck a scintillating field goal in the 29th minute to reduce the margin to 1-2.

Third quarter saw fierce contest between both the teams. Aran Zalewski found the equalizer for Australia in the 31st minute. Subsequently, Jeremy Hayward capitalized on two penalty corners in the 32nd and 36th minutes to give Australia an upper hand with a 4-2 lead.

Spain fought back strongly as they got back-to-back penalty corners in the 37th minute, but could not capitalised. They continued with the surge and got back-to-back penalty corners again in the 40th minute. Marc Miralles converted the last one to reduce Spain’s margin to 3-4.

In the fourth and final quarter, Australia went all out to defend their 4-3 lead. Australia goal keeper thwarted a certain scoring opportunity in the form of a penalty stroke in the 55th minute to maintain their lead and in the process the fate of the keenly-contested match was sealed.