Torneo del Centenario: India lose 1-2 to resolute Spain

India were held at bay by a resolute Spain, eventually going down 1-2 in the opening game of the Torneo del Centenario. Hockey India

The Indian men's hockey team put up a fighting show in their opening game of the 100th Anniversary Spanish Hockey Federation - International Tournament (Torneo del Centenario) but hosts Spain won the closely-fought tie 2-1 in Barcelona on Tuesday. Captain Harmanpreet Singh (59') netted a goal for India after Pau Cunill (11') and Joaquin Menini (33') had put the hosts in front.

India commenced the match on an aggressive note with high pressing in the first quarter but were unable to take the lead. Meanwhile, hosts Spain began to gain momentum as the first quarter progressed, and it paid off as Cunill found the back of the net to put the hosts ahead in the 11th minute.

With the scoreline stacked against them, India looked to control possession and launch a counterattack in the second quarter in search of an equaliser, but Spain's defence held strong to prevent them from bouncing back, as the second quarter ended goalless, with Spain leading 1-0 at half-time.

The third quarter began with the Indian team attacking ruthlessly and repeatedly testing Spain's defence; however, the hosts not only kept India at bay but also doubled their lead through Menini, who found himself in an ideal position to deflect in a shot from Jose Basterra.

Trailing by two goals, India shifted gears to put relentless pressure on Spain and even won a penalty corner, but were unable to capitalise on it. Spain's goalkeeper then saved Harmanpreet's fiery shot from distance towards the end of the third quarter to make sure that Spain entered the final 15 minutes of the game with a two-goal lead.

In their bid to bounce back, India came out all guns blazing in the fourth quarter and created some good scoring opportunities, but still struggled to find their first goal of the game. Meanwhile, Spain switched to a counter-attacking strategy and won back-to-back penalty corners, but were unable to convert any of them.

On the other hand, India continued to put pressure on the home team's defence, which paid off when Harmanpreet converted a penalty corner in the dying minutes of the game to keep his team in the game. However, Spain prevented India from scoring another goal, and the game ended 2-1 in favour of the hosts.

India will next take on the Netherlands in their second game of the tournament on 26th July 2023 at 21:30 IST. All games of the 100th Anniversary Spanish Hockey Federation - International Tournament (Torneo del Centenario) will be live-streamed on Olympics.com and Watch.Hockey.