Spain take laurels in late flurry of goals in Malaga

Five Nations Invitational Tournament (Malaga)
Spain 3 (M Miralles, A Iglesias, X Lleonart) Ireland 2 (M Nelson, C Harte)
Amid a late shoot-out, Ireland fell 3-2 to world number eight side Spain in Malaga on day two of their Five Nations Invitational tournament despite goals from Matthew Nelson and Conor Harte in the last 10 minutes.

Xavi Lleonart celebrates his winning goal. Pic: RFEH

The first half was scoreless with precious little between the sides and chances scarce to come by though Shane O’Donoghue did go close while Jamie Carr had to be adept to tip away a Pau Quemada chance.

There was plenty of bite to the tie, perhaps borne out of numerous meetings between the sides in 2017, with plenty of cards shown for robust tackles.

Marc Miralles put the hosts in front with 20 minutes to go when Sergi Enrique picked out his run away from goal with a glorious disguised pass. The finish was simply done on his backhand.

Matthew Nelson equalised going into the closing 10 minutes when he dove onto a low ball from Ireland’s fifth penalty corner. Alvaro Iglesias restored the Spanish lead with a baseball style volley for 2-1 but that lead lasted barely 30 seconds when Conor Harte powered home a set piece.

Stu Loughrey picked up a yellow card in the aftermath, however, and Spain capitalised with the extra man when Xavi Lleonart scrambled in a back post tip-in for 3-2 with four minutes remaining, the last major act of a helter-skelter final quarter.

Ireland face Scotland next on Thursday evening as this World Cup preparation tournament continues.

Ireland: J Carr, M Bell, C Cargo, M Nelson, J Dale, P Caruth, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, P Gleghorne, C Harte, L Cole
Subs: J Bell, N Glassey, J McKee, D Walsh, J Duncan, S Loughrey, D Fitzgerald

Spain: Q Cortes. S Enrique, P Quemada, V Ruiz, A Iglesias, R Santana, X Lleonart, M Salles, J Romeu, M Serrahima, M Perellon
Subs: R Sanchez, I Rodriguez, A de Frutos, M Miralles, E Gonzalez, M Bolto, M Fernandez

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