The Indian men’s hockey team put up a fighting show in their opening game of the 100th Anniversary Spanish Hockey Federation - International Tournament but hosts Spain won the closely-fought tie 2-1 in Barcelona on Tuesday. Captain Harmanpreet Singh (59’) netted a goal for India after goals from Pau Cunill (11’) and Joaquin Menini (33’) for Spain.

India began the match on an aggressive note with high pressing in the first quarter but were unable to take the lead. Meanwhile, hosts Spain began to gain momentum as the first quarter progressed, and it paid off as Cunill found the back of the net to put the hosts ahead in the 11th minute.

After conceding the opening goal, India looked to control possession and launch a counterattack in the second quarter in search of an equaliser, but Spain’s defence held strong to prevent them from bouncing back, as the second quarter ended goalless, with Spain leading 1-0 at half-time.

The third quarter began with India repeatedly testing Spain’s defence; however, the hosts not only kept India at bay but also doubled their lead through Menini, who found himself in an ideal position to deflect in a lighting shot by Jose Basterra.

Trailing by two goals, India shifted gears to put relentless pressure on Spain and even won a penalty corner, but were unable to capitalise on it. Also, Spain’s goalkeeper saved Harmanpreet’s fiery shot towards the end of the third quarter to make sure that Spain entered the final 15 minutes of the game with the two-goal lead.

The fourth quarter saw India create some good scoring opportunities, but they still struggled to find their first goal of the game. Meanwhile, Spain switched to counter-attacking and won back-to-back penalty corners, but were unable to convert any of them.

The continuous pressure on the home team’s defence from India paid off when Harmanpreet (59’) converted a penalty corner in the dying minutes of the game. However, Spain prevented India from scoring another goal, and the game ended 2-1 in favour of the hosts.

India will now take on the Netherlands in their second game of the tournament at 9:30PM IST on Wednesday.