Spain produced a spirited performance to eke out a fighting 3-3 draw against Oceania runners-up New Zealand in their last Pool C match to book a quarterfinal berth in the men’s Junior Hockey World Cup at the Major Dhyan Chand Astroturf stadium here on Sunday.
Spain are now likely to face favourites India in the quarterfinals.
Both Spain and New Zealand ended their pool engagements with four points from three matches but it was the Spaniards who sailed through to the knock-out stages, courtesy better goal difference.
Spain secured their berth in the last-eight stage because of a two goal advantage over their rivals.
Six-time champions and title holders Germany topped the pool with an all-win record.
Spain took the lead in the 21st minute through Llorenc Piera Grau before New Zealand seized the initiative in the second half through goals from Sam Hiha (44th) and Jonty Keaney (59th).
Spain drew level three minutes later through skipper Enrique Gonzalez de Castejon’s (62nd) field strike before New Zealand restored their lead four minutes later when Dylan Thomas scored from a field effort. New Zealand needed a win to progress to the quarterfinals but their hopes were shattered in the last minute by the Spaniards.
In search of the all-important equaliser, Spain went all out and tasted success a minute from the hooter when Jan Lara Rosell (69th) scored a fine goal to the disappointment of the Kiwis.
New Zealand, however, were in no mood to give up and unleashed an attack on the Spanish goal in the next move which resulted in a penalty corner just seconds from the final hooter, but they failed to utilise the opportunity.
Meanwhile, in the other match of Pool C, six-time champions and title holders Germany spanked Japan 6-1 to maintain their unbeaten record in the tournament.
Anton Boeckel (25th, 39th minutes) struck twice while Constantin Staib (3rd), Ole Thies Prinz (54th), Timm Herzbruch (58th) and Lukas Windfeder (63rd) were the other goal scorers for Germany.
Japan’s lone goal came late in the match from the sticks of Ryo Ozawa (67th).
With three wins from as many games, Germany topped Pool C and will take on Pool D runners up in the quarterfinals.
Japan, on other hand, are yet to taste victory in the tournament and will now feature in classification matches.
However, the match of the day was between Belgium and Netherlands in Pool B.
It took a spirited performance from Belgium, who finished fourth in Euro Hockey Junior Championship, to stun reigning junior European champions Netherlands 3-2 in a keenly-contested encounter.
Belgium came back from a goal down to stun their rivals with goals coming from the sticks of Thomas Verheijen (48th), Quentin van Lierde (56th) and Henri Raes (9th).
Netherlands’ goals were scored by Terrance Pieters (38th) and Bram van Groesen (64th). Belgium are atop Pool B with two wins from as many games and will next play Malaysia in their final pool fixture.