BHUBANESWAR: After losing the opener to Olympic champions Argentina and drawing against France, world No 8 Spain were in a do or die situation against New Zealand in their last league Pool A match on Thursday. For New Zealand, a draw would have been sufficient to stay alive in the hockey World Cup here. Spain, winners of three Olympic silver and a bronze, were left licking their wounds as New Zealand rallied to draw the contest 2-2 and qualify for the knockout stages. Spain, though, started on a comfortable note and led 2-0 after the second quarter. They maintained the lead till the third quarter, but fumbled in the last 15 minutes as the Black Sticks took control. Argentina, by virtue of topping the pool have got direct entry into the quarter-finals. New Zealand, who are second, and the third-placed team will have to play ‘crossover matches’ to make the last-8 grade.“A lot will depend on the upcoming match. I think we fought back brilliantly. My boys believed it wasn’t over and they kept fighting. The real World Cup starts now. I think we did a commendable job during the pool stage. We will lift our game from here,” said New Zealand coach Darren Smith. “Spain were good in the first-two quarters and they really pressed hard. But then, from the third quarter, things started turning around in our favour and by the time we reached the fourth quarter, our momentum was set and we scored two goals to equalise,” added New Zealand’s Arun Panchia.Spain took the lead in the ninth minute when Albert Beltran scored after New Zealand defence made a blunder leaving a huge gap in the middle. Spain executed a move from right flank to perfection to make it 2-0 with Alvaro Iglesias tapping the ball in. Spain remained in the command till the 50th minute, when Hayden Phillips reduced the lead and then in the 56th minute, Kane Russell converted a penalty corner to equalise. “After taking a 2-0 lead, we never expected this type of result. We committed some mistakes in defence in the last quarter and that changed everything,” said Spain’s Albert Beltran.Published in Daily Times, December 7th 2018.