India ended their 2016 Six Nations Invitational campaign with a tame 1-1 draw against Spain at Valencia on Sunday. The visitors missed out on a third-place finish as they finished their last competitive tournament before the Rio Olympics with just one win in five matches.
In the last match, India had fought back from a two-goal deficit against Argentina to grab a 3-3 draw in the end. That fighting performance in the fourth quarter had provided the team with some much-needed confidence as they headed into their final clash of the tournament. A win would have given India a chance to climb to third in the points table, in what was their last competitive fixture before the Rio Olympics.
It was the home side who started the match strongly, and in the 10th minute, they took the lead through Pau Quemada. Spain dominated the possession of the ball, and won a penalty corner in the 9th minute. The drag flick was blocked, however, the ball fell kindly for a Spanish attacker in front of the goal. His flick towards goal was blocked by an Indian leg, and the referee awarded a penalty stroke to Spain. Quemada stepped up and slotted the ball past a helpless PR Sreejesh.
The goal shook India into action, and they pushed forward with much-needed positive intent in search of the equalizer. The visitors started to keep hold of the ball, and for a team which is designed to play on the counter-attack, that is never an easy task. However, the Men in Blue did manage to win a penalty corner at the start of the second quarter in the 18th minute. VR Raghunath, who had wasted a couple of opportunities earlier in the first quarter, found the back of the net with a fiercely taken drag flick to make it 1-1.
Sergi Enrique received a green card towards the end of the second quarter, but India could not make anything of their numerical advantage, as both the teams headed into the halftime break with the scores tied at 1-1. The third quarter turned out to a cagey affair with both the teams seemingly reluctant to commit too many men forward. Towards the end of the quarter, Raghunath missed an opportunity to put his team ahead as he struck a penalty corner straight down the middle of the goal, and the keeper made an easy save. The rebound, however, fell kindly for Danish Mujtaba in front of the goal, and even he could not find a way past Quico Cortes.
In the fourth quarter, Spain had a slew of penatly corners, but they failed to convert any of them, while India also struggled to create openings at the other end. Eventually, both the teams settled for a 1-1 draw, and ended what was a fairly disapointing campaign for both the teams.