Australia storm into Hockey WC semis

Bhubneswar: Title favourites Australia stormed into the semifinals of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 earning a 4-3 win against Spain in their quarterfinals on Tuesday.
In the semifinals, Australia will face the winner of the match between Germany and England.
The match set up an intriguing contest as the high-flying Australian attack came up against the Spanish defence. The three penalty corners they conceded were stopped brilliantly by Adrian Rafi who looked in great form.
Spain had one great chance in the quarter, as a penalty corner stopped by Rafi allowed Marc Miralles Portillo to launch a counter attack, allowing Spain to create a 2-on-2 chance, but Gispert Xavier’s pass in the circle was well intercepted by Andrew Lewis Charter and cleared by the defence.
Australia again started on the front foot in the second quarter, but it was Spain who found the opening goal in the 20th minute, as a rare foray into the Australian half, saw them win a long corner which was taken quickly by Gispert and his shot on the reverse found the bottom right corner of the goal to perfection giving Spain the lead against the run of play.
Australia continued their search for an opening goal and another penalty corner opportunity amounted to nothing as Blake Govers’ flick was high and wide to the keeper’s right.
Spain once again managed to launch a counter from the right and a speculative cross by Pepe Cunill was missed by Gonzalez and Harvie could not get a clean intercept.
The ball finally fell to Marc Recasens who found himself in space on the far post and his quick reaction shot beat Charter and doubled Spain’s lead! Australia did find a goal back right before half-time as a powerful pass into the circle found Ogilvie unmarked on the right and his low driven shot could not be stopped by Rafi, giving Australia some momentum heading into the break.
Australia were back on level terms inside 2 minutes of the second half as a mazy run along the left baseline by Jake Whetton was not checked by any Spanish defender and his pass across the goal was tapped into an empty goal by Aran Zalewski.
Another minute later, the turnaround was complete as a penalty corner, flicked by Hayward took a deflection off a Spanish stick and beat Rafi to give Australia the lead, with a mere 167 seconds between the first goal and the third.
Hayward then doubled Australia’s lead in the 37th minute from a penalty corner, but 4 minutes later Miralles pulled one back for Spain through their second penalty corner of the game.
Australia retreated into their own half in the final quarter allowing Spain to gain a greater share of possession but Australia remained a big threat on the counter attack.
Spain had a huge chance in the final 5 minutes through a penalty stroke, and captain Marc Miralles stepped up to take it. He went to his right, but Charter guessed correctly and got his hand to the ball to save the attempt and maintain the Kookaburras’ lead.
Australia negotiated the final minutes brilliantly, keeping the ball in the Spanish half and frustrating the Red Sticks who were starved of all possession till the final whistle.
Andrew Charter was awarded player of the match for his heroics throughout the game and said: “It was a big test of our mentality to come back from two goals down and win the game. For the games going forward, clearly we need to improve on our defence a bit and we will take it game-to-game based on who we are facing.
UNI

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