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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Belgium (popularly known as Red Lions) lived up to their reputation to scrape past Spain 4-3 via shootout in a 5th-8th place match of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday.

The match went to the shootout after it ended in a 2-2 draw in the regulation time. Pau Cunill (4th and 24th minutes) scored a brace for Spain by converting a penalty corner and with a brilliant field goal respectively. Jeremy Wilbers (33rd minute) and Thibeau Stockbroekx (56th minute) found the target for Belgium.

In the ensuing shootout, while Belgium could convert four of their five chances, Spain could find the target only thrice.

It was Spain which dominated the proceedings in the first and second quarter respectively by getting the lead with as many as two goals.

However, the Red Lions came back roaring in the second half by striking in the third quarter and fourth quarter respectively.

“It was a pretty tough challenge by Spain. Our guys came back strongly to equal the scoreline and later hold their nerves during the crucial shootout to emerge with flying colours,” said Belgium captain Dylan Englebert.

“Belgium is emerging as a potent force in world hockey. Our guys have got some good exposures in this mega tournament which will keep them in good stead for the future,” said Englebert.

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