South Africa vs Spain 2-3 (1-1 half-time)Spain kept their hopes outside hopes of reaching the semi-finals alive as they netted their first win of the campaign, all but condemning South Africa to the minor placings.In a lively clash, South Africa hit the front first through Justin Reid-Ross but Marc Salles, Pau Quemada and Miguel Delas replied to put the game out of reach despite Lloyd Norris-Jones late goal.
The Spanish began the game with just 14 outfield players at their disposal as injuries to Santi Freixa and Pol Amat meant they could only call upon reserve goalkeeper Xavier Trenchs to fill their bench. Sergi Enrique’s suspension curtailed their numbers further. And things looked to be going further against them when Reid-Ross got the first of three corner goals in the game in the 26th minute.It was heavily deflected as his drag-flick first clipped the sole of an airborne Alex Fabregas’ shoe before bouncing into the ground viciously, eventually going in off Francisco Cortes’ shoulder. Spain, though, got back on terms five minutes later. Carlos Ballbe won a corner with his run down the right wing, a move only denied by Rassie Pieterse’s excellent stop but the aftermath bounced off a foot. From the resulting set-piece, Quemada pushed for the right post where Marc Salles slid in to ramp the ball past the defender on the post.
Ballbe was again the creative influence for the go-ahead goal, haring down the right wing and laying up for Quemada to scramble over the line. The third goal was similar in making to the first, a corner variation that Miguel Delas slid onto, using the grip of his stick to find the left corner. The goal was awarded after an umpire’s referral. It looked set to see Spain over the line from what has been a tough start to their campaign but South Africa made them sweat as Ian Haley pounced on a Spanish miscontrol and back-hand the ball to Norris-Jones who coolly finished off.They threw everything forward in the closing stages but found the going frustrating and now have to focus on getting something from games against Pakistan and Argentina if they are to move up in the group. Spain, meanwhile, have Argentina next and then Great Britain in their final four bid.
Great Britain vs Pakistan 4-1 (2-0 half-time)Ashley Jackson produced a master-class to help propel Great Britain into a strong position in Group A with an all round display of class and guile. His two corner goals capped a performance around the field that blew Pakistan away, his turn of pace creating a string of problems.
James Tindall got Britain off to the flyer when Harry Martin got through down the right. His cross-shot was just about intercepted by Imran Shah but he could not get enough on it to escape the lurking Tindall who latched onto the loose ball and slammed home from a tight angle on the reverse. Jackson almost had a second soon after only to see Rashid Mehmood brilliantly take the ball out of the top corner in the fifth minute as the hosts started brilliantly.The half’s main talking point, though, was a bizarre green card situation. Muhammad Waqas was green carded but Pakistan ended up with eleven still on the pitch that umpire Marcelo Servetto spotted soon after. Sohail Abbas was made to join Waqas on the sideline for the technical foul.
Pakistan did come back into the tie but GB extended their lead in pristine fashion. Jackson cut in from the right wing with an exquisite turn before laying off to Nick Catlin running diagonally to the right. His movement opened space to square into the path of Jonty Clarke to gleefully finish off.After an initial Pakistan burst, the second half proved a more languid affair as Jackson netted penalty corner flicks in the 50th and 67th minutes – the first was a low bullet the second hitting the rafters of the goal. Sohail Abbas did get one back, his 347th international goal, in the final seconds but James Fair denied a couple of earlier efforts just after the break which could have put the game in the balance.
It elevates Britain to seven points; only second to Australia in the pool rankings on goal difference while Pakistan remain on four points in third place.(Stephen Findlater)