Lleonart stroke earns Spain win over Ireland

Men’s Four Nations tournament
Ireland 0 Spain 1 (X Lleonart)

Spain continued their good recent run of results against Ireland with Xavi Lleonart’s penalty stroke 12 minutes from the end earning the Four Nations hosts a second win of the campaign.

In a game marked by the incessant rain at the Polideportivo Virgen del Carmen-Beteró, Spain shaded the first quarter in tricky conditions but only Ricardo Sánchez’s light shot was offered, David Harte palming it away with ease.

Xavi Lleonart scores the all-important stroke. Pic: RFEH

The second quarter offered much of the same, a tight battle on a slow surface in Valencia that stymied some promising attacks.

The first corners came after half-time with Spain having two to Ireland’s one with each run down to keep the scoreboard blank.

A breakthrough of note finally came in the closing quarter from a great move by Quique González de Castejón, picking out Álvaro Iglesias. His shot was worn by Conor Harte en route to goal and led to a stroke which Lleonart converted.

Ireland bossed the last 12 minutes but, as so often a superb Quico Cortés, prevented an equaliser from happening, including from a corner in the last 90 seconds. It meant Spain had a fourth successive win over Ireland since the Green Machine’s success at the 2017 Hamburg Masters.

Round three of the group stage of this competition takes place on Thursday with Ireland meeting the Netherlands who were 2-1 winners over England. The Spaniards are top on six points with Ireland and the Dutch level on three points with England bottom.

Ireland: D Harte, J Bell, M Bell, L Madeley, C Cargo, M Nelson, E Magee, K Shimmins, M Darling, C Harte, J Duncan
Subs: A Sothern, S Murray, M Robson, D Fitzgerald, D Walsh, P Gleghorne, L Cole

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