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India go down 3-5 to Spain at four-nation hockey tourney

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Monchengladbach, Apr 17 (UNI) Nightmare continued for India and despite putting up a vastly improved performance in the second half, Gagan Ajit Singh's team went down 3-5 to two-time Olympic champion Spain in their second match of the four-nation Invitational Hockey Championship here.

The former European Champions led 2-0 at half-time and will now take on Germany in the tournament decider after a brilliant hat-trick by Eduard Tubao ensured a comfortable victory for them.

India had the first strike at goal but Rajpal Singh's shot hit the post. Putting the Spanish team on alert, who came up with some quick passing to send the Indian defence on a spin.

The Spanish efforts paid off in the ninth minute when a Tubao pass found Pol Amat, who made no mistake in flicking the ball past goalkeeper Bharat Chetri.

The Spaniards dominated the proceedings after that before doubling their lead in the 21st minute again through Amat, who scored through a penalty corner.

The Spanish team slowed down the pace of the game in the rest of the half and consolidated their lead immediately in the second half in the 37th minute. Amat was at it again when he made a brilliant pass to Tubao, who converted the chance to give the team a commanding lead of 3-0.

The Indians finally woke up to the situation and scored their first goal with a brilliant solo run by Tushar Khandekar in the 44th minute.

The goal provided the necessary impetus to the team as they started applying more pressure on their rivals.

The efforts bore fruits when in the 55th minute Gagan scored through a powerful shot, coming from a wide angle (3-2).

The Indians drew parity when the skipper earned a penalty corner, which was converted by Sandeep Singh.

The match came alive but not for long as Spain regrouped soon and again went ahead in the 63rd minute when Tubao scored his second, again through a pass from Amat.

Tubao completed his hat-trick six minutes later, giving Spain their fifth goal. The scoreline did not change after that and the Indians ended another match on a sorry note.

They will now take on Argentina before making their exit from the tournament. India lost 1-4 to Germany in their first match.

UNI XC PM RAI1454

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