Madrid: The opening match of the five-match series between the Indian women’s hockey team and Spain saw the hosts register a 3-0 victory here at the Consejo Superior de Deportes Hockey Stadium last evening.
It was an evenly-matched encounter between the two teams but the hosts were helped by the efficient finishing shown by Lola Riera (48′, 52′) and Berta Bonastre (6′) whose goals were enough to secure the victory.
The opening quarter saw Spain dominate possession and start their campaign well as 26-year-old Berta Bonastre found herself in the right spot to score the opening goal only in the sixth minute.
The hosts got in to the rhythm of the match quickly and were looking to add a second goal but India’s defence held on throughout the first quarter.
The visitors had chances of their own, but could not produce clear goal-scoring opportunities. Skipper Rani had a glorious chance in the 14th minute but her shot ended up going wide.
India started the second quarter fairly well as Anupa Barla’s shot in the 19th minute was saved by Spanish goalkeeper Maria Ruiz. The next minute Rani had her second chance of the match but could not get the equalising goal.
The visitors were also awarded a penalty corner in the 24th minute but the resulting shot went just wide of the Spanish post. Two minutes later, the hosts looked to counter India and forced a reflex save from goalkeeper Savita, who made sure that the visitors went into the half-time break only a goal down.
The Indian shot-stopper was called into action again at the start of the third quarter when she made a save from a penalty corner. At the other end of the pitch, Rani tried to make amends of the missed opportunities but her shot on goal was saved by Maria Ruiz.
The visitors looked to find an equaliser in the final quarter of the match as they took a more attacking approach and let runners get past the Spanish defenders on the flanks.
However, in an unfortunate turn of events for Sunita Lakra, a common-ball hit her head and the referee decided to give a penalty stroke to the hosts, which was well converted by Lola Riera in the 48th minute. Four minutes later, Riera was awarded her second goal of the match as her drag-flick from a penalty corner was deflected by Sunita Lakra’s stick into the back of the net, giving Spain a 3-0 lead.
India tried to find an opening in the latter stages of the match, but the Spanish looked to close down the victory with sufficient players behind the ball.
India and Spain will play their second match later today.