Thursday, July 7, 2022

London Olympics Hockey: Spain lose to Australia and lose a second key forward

[img_assist|nid=4361|title=Double trouble|desc=Spain’s Santi Frexia who broke his arm against Pakistan on Monday has been joined on the casualty list by team-mate Pol Amat with a serious shoulder injury –|link=node|align=right|width=220|height=146]LONDON, August 1 – Spain’s bad luck continued during a 5-0 defeat by Australia when they lost five-time Olympian Pol Amat to injury, two days after captain Santiago Frexia broke his left arm in their opening match.

The injuries to Amat and Frexia leave Spain without two key players who have almost 500 international appearances between them.

Australia were quicker to settle in the pool A match at the Riverbank Arena and earned a penalty corner in the third minute. Christopher Ciriello exchanged passes with Eddie Ockenden at the top of the circle before Miguel Delas blocked his shot off the shin to give Australia a second penalty corner attempt.

Ciriello didn’t get under his second chance and goalkeeper Francisco Cortes kicked away his low shot.

A sharp exchange of passes between Russell Ford and Mark Knowles in the ninth minute gave Australia the lead. Ford passed infield to Knowles whose first-time slapped pass into the circle where Ford deflected the ball into the goal.

Ford was involved again for Australia’s second goal in the 14th minute, making his way down the backline to the left of Spain’s goal before playing the ball through Marc Salles to Matthew Butturini who shot low to Cortes’ right.

Spain’s best chance of the opening half came from their first penalty corner just after Australia went 2-0 ahead, but a complicated move involving Pau Quemada and Roc Oliva was closed down by Fergus Kavanagh without a clean shot at goal.

It was in the 22nd minute that Spain lost Amat to injury. Attacking down the backline, Amat fell over Kavanagh landed awkwardly on his right arm and was forced to leave the field.

Australia increased their lead in the 29th minute with a deflected goal from Simon Orchard for a 3-0 half-time lead.

Glenn Turner was prominent in Australia’s early second-half attacks and he made it 4-0 in the 40th minute.

Orchard had a chance to increase his team’s lead but somehow flicked over Spain’s crossbar from close range after more good build-up play from Ford down the right.

Xavi Lleonart earned a penalty corner for Spain in the 59th minute, but Australia goalkeeper Nathan Burgers saved Quemada’s flick.

Australia’s final goal came after a late series of penalty corners. With Ciriello off the field, Joel Carroll received the pull-outs, on one occasion slapping the ball into the circle where Ockenden deflected it into the top of the net to make it 5-0.

The victory went some way to avenging Australia’s 3-2 semifinal defeat against Spain at Beijing 2008.


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