Hockey: Rupinder Singh's brace hands India 3-0 win over Spain
(Sourced from PTI)
Dragflicker Rupinder Pal Singh scored a brace as the Indian men's hockey overcame a demoralizing defeat in the previous match to cruise past Spain 3-0 and register its second win at Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday. India, ranked fourth in the world, had earlier defeated New Zealand 3-2 in their opening fixture, while Spain is yet to register a win in the competition.
Drubbed 1-7 by Australia in their last match, India produced a spirited performance against world No. nine Spain and scored through Simranjeet Singh (14th minute) and Rupinder Pal Singh (15th and 51st) to record a comfortable win in their third Pool A match at the Oi Hockey Stadium. Spain drew 1-1 against Argentina before losing 3-4 to New Zealand.
The Indians will next play reigning Olympic champions Argentina on Thursday. For any team, it is always tough to recover from a morale-shattering loss within a day, but India looked more organized and sorted against Spain on Tuesday.
Indian field hockey player Manpreet Singh's men played high-pressure hockey from the word go and dominated the possession in the initial ten minutes even though they failed to create any kind of real scoring opportunities. In the ninth minute, India came close to breaking the deadlock but Simranjeet's deflection from skipper Manpreet sailed over the goal.
Spain slowly and steadily got into the groove and secured their first penalty corner in the 12th minute but wasted the chance. The Indians mounted a number of attacks in the final few minutes and the ploy bore fruits when Spain's defense was caught off guard by Amit Rohidas' pass and an unmarked Simranjeet just tapped the ball into the goal past Quico Cortes.
The goal rejuvenated India as they secured three back-to-back penalty corners in the final minute of the first quarter and from the third set-piece, Harmanpreet's flick found the body of a Spanish defender, which resulted in a penalty stroke.
Rupinder stepped up and made no mistake in doubling India's lead. In the 51st minute, India managed to find the net again and soak up the pressure when they earned a penalty corner, their fourth of the match, from a counter-attack, and this time Rupinder was bang on target with a powerful low flick to the right of Spanish goalkeeper Cortes.
In the 53rd minute, Spain secured three consecutive penalty corners but their drag-flicker Pau Quemada failed to breach the Indian back-line led by PR Sreejesh. Spain secured another penalty corner in the final minutes but Sreejesh denied Quemada to help India keep a clean sheet.