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Great Britain qualify for semi-finals but draw with Spain has a controversial end

[img_assist|nid=5415|title=Corner king|desc=Richard Smith and Ashley Jackson (right) celebrate Jackson’s 32nd minute goal- hockeyimages.co.uk|link=node|align=right|width=220|height=146]LONDON, August 7 – Great Britain progressed the the semi-final stage of the London 2012 Olympic Games with a 1-1 , but the game ended with two late decisions that left Spain’s coach fuming.

In the final minute, Spain claimed two penalty corners but umpire John Wright consulted the disengaged umpire Simon Taylor and neither was awarded. GB players surrounded Wright in both cases, but they had already used their video referral.

Spain coach Dani Martin said: “It cannot happen that an international official changes his decision twice just because he is surrounded by opposition players. 

“If the president of the FIH [International Hockey Federation] does not give a public explanation there will be very serious consequences. We are in a tournament where there are clear favourites and those countries are being favoured in the tournament,” Martin said.

On the field, GB took a 1-0 lead through an Ashley Jackson penalty corner in the 32nd minute. Spain equalised through an equally powerful Pau Quemada corner in the 55th minute with GB guilty of letting Spain back into the game.

Spain pushed hard for a winning goal. They squandered one corner and then twice thought they had been awarded others. Television replays suggest the correct decision was reached in both cases.

GB coach Jason Lee said nerves had played a part and players had started thinking about the importance of the match.

“We held onto just enough quality for 50 minutes. A few of them started to feel the nerves. 1988 – that is a long time since GB was in a semi-final,” Lee said. 

Lee said hockey had to realise how challenging umpiring decisions were under pressure and to learn how to improve them.

“What is clear is that, under pressure, in hockey we have lots of fifty-fifty decisions, and it is difficult for umpires to make 50-50 decisions someone will be upset,” Lee said.

Spain captain Ramon Alegre said: “Everyone can see what happened. Spain went into this match with a dream and they have not allowed us to achieve this dream and we are disappointed.”

After the match GB captain Barry Middleton received a formal reprimand – with no suspension – for failing to control his players.

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