LUCKNOW, Dec 15: Home favourites India overcame Spain 2-1 to set up a semi-fil clash against Australia in the Hockey Junior World Cup at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium here on Thursday.
Marc Serrahima's successful pelty conversion had given Spain a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute. But India fought back in the second half with pelty corner conversions from Simranjeet Singh (57th) and Harmanpreet Singh (66th) to march into the last four stage.
After this win, Harendra Singh-coached India will face the task of going past Australia, who got the better of European powerhouse the Netherlands 2-1.
The last time India reached the semi-fil of the tourment was in 2005 in Rotterdam. They had finished fourth then.
The other semi-fil will be played between double defending champion Germany and Belgium. While Germany eased past England 4-2, Belgium edged past Argenti 4-1 (1-1) via pelty shoot-out.
The match between India and Spain turned out to be a tough fight and the European team stifled the hosts with strong man-to-man marking. Spain curbed India's flair and maged to keep them at bay.
India got a couple of pelty corners but due to technical flaws like poor trapping and bad execution, they were not fruitful.
Spain, meanwhile took the lead after earning a pelty corner in the 22nd minute. Serrahima's powerful flick to the right low corner beat Indian goalkeeper Vikash Dahiya to give Spain a 1-0 lead, much to the frustration of the decent crowd in attendance.
Spain maged to keep their lead till the half-time and in the second half, it seemed the equaliser was difficult to come by as the Indians kept making a mess of pelty corner opportunities. But in the 57th minute, it changed. Even though it was a poorly executed pelty corner, Sumit maged to hit a powerful blow straight at the Spanish goalkeeper Albert Perez, who blocked it before the ball popped out. Simranjeet tapped the ball in quickly before the goalkeeper could react to make it 1-1.
After the equaliser, the confidence of the Indians grew and with the crowd behind them, they pushed hard for the lead.
Nine minutes later, Harmanpreet made amends for his earlier mistakes to fire a grounder past Perez to make it 2-1 as the crowd erupted in joy. The strike marked the third goal for Harmanpreet, who was being criticised for his poor pelty corner conversions in the 16-tion tourment. IANS