The Kookaburras have qualified for the FIH Hockey World League Final semi-finals after a three-goal final quarter blitz clinched a 4-1 win over Spain in Wednesday’s quarter-final in Bhubaneswar.
Aaron Kleinschmidt swooped on a rebound from a penalty corner to make it 2-1 shortly after three quarter time, before Blake Govers fired home two drag flicks to seal Australia’s spot in the final four. Earlier, Spain had gone ahead when Marc Garcia swept home on 20 minutes, but Jeremy Hayward scored a deserved equaliser from a penalty corner shortly before half-time.The Kookaburras had the better of the chances with 60 per cent possession in the opposition half and converted four of six penalty corners in a strong display.
Australia will face either Germany or the Netherlands in the semi-finals on Friday or Saturday.The Kookaburras had drawn all three pool matches before the quarter-final win over Spain, who had finished second in Pool A.
Man of the Match Matt Dawson said: “We obviously started a bit slow. It’s always nice to build into the tournament. It’s good to get a win tonight.”
Dylan Wotherspoon had the best of the chances in a tight first quarter, before Australia thought they’d taken the lead when fourth-gamer Lachlan Sharp tucked home a rebound.
However, the goal was disallowed after a Spain video review for a dubious foul from Aran Zalewski.Moments later, the Spanish went ahead when Sergi Enrique’s deflected drive into the circle was converted by Garcia in the 22nd minute.
Despite the cruel twist, Australia rallied with Hayward powering home a drag flick in the 28th minute.Hayward forced a good save from Spain goalkeeper Quico Cortes early in the third from a penalty corner, while Tyler Lovell did well to thwart Diego Arana down the other end.Daniel Beale was yellow carded late in the third but Australia held on, before taking the advantage in the last, when Kleinschmidt lashed home a rebound from Hayward’s 48th minute drag flick.
A minute later, Govers struck a drag flick past Cortes’ right to make it 3-1 and give Australia breathing space. In a carbon copy, Govers added another from a penalty corner in the 50th minute to the goalkeeper’s right to seal the result and Australia’s semi-final spot.
Australia 4 (Hayward 28’, Kleinschmidt 48’, Govers 50’, 50’)
Spain 1 (Garcia 20’)