Bhubaneswar: Skipper and goalkeeper Quico Cortes led from the front with a superb penalty stroke save to help three-time medallist Spain eke out a hard-fought 1-1 draw against lowly France in their second Pool A match at the ongoing men’s hockey World Cup here on Monday.
The draw kept both the teams in the hunt for the knock-out round with one point apiece from two games.
It was a battle between world number 8 Spain and the lowest ranked team of the competition France, who are ranked 20th, but it turned out to be a keenly-contested encounter as the Frenchmen gave their opponents a run for their money.
It was France who stunned the Spaniards in the sixth minute when Timothee Clement scored from a field effort.
But Spain came back strongly after the change of ends and restored parity in the 48th minute through Alvaro Iglesias’ field strike.
France had a golden opportunity to register their first major upset of the tournament but the Spain skipper Cortes came to his side’s rescue.
In the last 10 minutes, France were awarded a penalty stroke because of obstruction in front of the goal by a Spain defender after they went for video referral but Cortes made a brilliant save flying to his right to keep Hugo Genestet’s try at bay.
France could not have asked for a better chance to cause the first upset and pocket full three points from the game but was denied by Cortes’ brilliance in front of the goal.
The Spaniards had better goal scoring chances but was denied by a stout France defence led by goalkeeper Arthur Thieffry.
Spain got as many as seven penalty corners in the game but failed to breach Thieffry and his defence even once.
Spain had lost 3-4 to Olympic champions Argentina in their tournament opener, while France suffered a 1-2 defeat against New Zealand.
Spain play New Zealand in their final pool match on December 6, while France will be up against Argentina.