London 2012: Team GB reach men’s hockey semi-finals after nail-biting draw with Spain
Team GB 1 Spain 1
Team GB sealed their place in the men’s semi-finals at Spain’s expense after surviving a nail-biting final 15 minutes.
Ashley Jackson had given the host nation a half-time lead, but after Pau Quemada levelled from a penalty corner Spain launched an assault on the GB goal.
Knowing they needed to win to ensure they finished above Team GB in Pool A Spain dominated the closing stages and forced several penalty corners.
They were unable to take their chances though and frustrations boiled over at the end with several Spanish players having to be escorted from the field after surrounding the umpires.
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Jackson and Surbiton’s James Tindall missed opportunities to open the scoring from penalty corners in the seventh minute.
A tentative first half brought little goalmouth action, but Team GB finally made the breakthrough on the stroke of half-time when Jackson fired in from a penalty corner.
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Spain made all the early running after half-time, but Eduard Tubau was hurried off the ball by the excellent GB defence and Rob Moore in particular.
Midway through the second period Tindall was inches away from turning in Old Loughtonians’ Harry Martin’s superb low cross, which was put behind by Spanish keeper Francisco Cortes.
From the resultant penalty corner Tindall saw an effort come back off the crossbar.
Moments later Team GB were punished for not netting a second when Quemada struck from a penalty corner to set up a thrilling finish.
With the home crowd at the Riverbank Arena as tense as they have been throughout the Olympics, Spain kept the supporters chewing their fingernails as they remained camped in GB’s half.
With four minutes remaining a Spanish shot was blocked by the foot of defender Iain Lewers, earning the visitors a penalty corner.
Spain failed to find the net, but spent the final minutes just outside the Team GB area and peppered James Fair’s goal.
But the keeper stood up to his task and made two fine saves to ensure the host nation reached Thursday’s semi-final against Pool B winners the Netherlands.