Playing with their backs to the wall, the Pakistan defence stood like a rock in the face of a barrage of attacks from Spain, who were hoping to secure their second win and go atop the points table.
After losing to India — a match in which they made a number of errors, Pakistan had to pull up their socks. They did just that in the Hockey World Cup on Tuesday.
Abdul Haseem Khan scored a brace to help Pakistan prevail over Spain 2-1 and keep alive their chances of a semifinal berth. The former now have three points from two matches.
If the defence was superb and absorbed the pressure created by the Spanish forwards, who created several chances, the Pakistan midfield stepped onto the turf with the aim of stopping the Spaniards from taking control of the match. Waseem Ahmed, who made some uncharacteristic errors against India, created the first chance and showed the way for the others. Rehan Butt, Shakeel Abbasi and Muhammad Umer Bhutta led the attack superbly and kept the Spanish defence under pressure after a tentative and sedate start.
Rodrigo Graze got Spain’s first chance midway through the first session while a few minutes later Butt shot wide after a feint in the circle.
The complexion of the match changed in the 30th minute when Abdul Haseem Khan tapped in a high ball to give Pakistan the lead.
Spain upped the tempo in the second session and created a number of chances but found the Pakistan defence hard to get past.
Spain earned a couple of penalty corners but Pau Quemada’s attempts proved futile - one being saved by the goalkeeper and another by a defender. Pol Amat too tried to run down the defence but Pakistan held firm.
Just when it looked that Pakistan would win by a lone goal, David Alegre scored off a mad scramble from just near the penalty spot off a penalty corner. Pakistan protested an unfair stick check but the video umpire upheld the goal.
At 1-1, both teams played attacking hockey and created a number of chances.
Three minutes before the end, Pakistan earned a penalty corner and Sohail Abbas’s drag flick was deflected into the goal by Abdul Haseem Khan to throw them a much-needed lifeline.