After a delayed start due to horrendous weather, the Kookaburras drew with Spain 1-1 in one of the most dramatic finishes of the tournament. For all your Tokyo 2020 coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.
Originally slated for an 11am AEST start, the game ultimately wouldn’t begin for an hour after. Water flooded the pitch after a heavy downpour, and officials were left mopping up pools and paddles for a good 40 minutes.
Watching the first quarter, you would have been able to assume that it was still a miserable, wet affair, neither side scoring early.
Australia opened the scoring through Tom Wickham in the second term, his third goal for the tournament so far.
The Kookaburras were set up nicely off a penalty, Wickham finding his prime position right in front of goal and sliding the ball past the Spanish keeper.
It was straight back to aggression for the Aussies, pushing up strongly against the valiant Spanish defence.
Spain received a green card late into the second term, Xavi Lleonart sitting out coming into the half time break.
With multiple shooting chances for the Aussies, Spain out of jail more than once as its keeper stood resolute. The half time scorecard read 1-0.
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The second half was where the game began to open up. Both sides made forward foray after forward foray, but neither were ultimately successful.
Lleonart was once again the centre of attention, leaving the field with an arm injury. He would take to the field after a quick consultations with the team doctors and physios.
Jacob Whetton was a constant offensive threat for the Kookaburras, but couldn’t convert in front of goals. Both his shots on goal were saved by Spanish keeper Francicso Cortes Jucosa, who had a day out in front of the net, saving six of his seven shots faced.
Coming into the three quarter time break, something had to give for either side.
The final statistics read attacking circle pentrations 14-16 Spain’s way, and it was clear to see in the last term that both sides were desperately after the win.
Australia had penalty after penalty, but couldn’t manage to turn a single one into a score.
Spain looked to equalise in the 50th minute, the referees on replay picked up a hit to one of the Spaniard’s boots and thus it was overturned. The sigh of relief for the Kookaburras wasn’t long lived though.
After another green card for a poor tackle, the game looked very nearly set for Australia.
Pau Quemada, not to be overlooked, became the hero of the match.
Spain earned a late, late corner after a dangerous ball entered the attacking circle but was kept out by Aussie keeper Andrew Charter.
With barely 50 seconds left to play, Quemada equalised with a powerful flick off a penalty.
The 37-year-old veteran has now appeared nearly 300 times at the national level for Spain, and his cool head an experience shone through when his nation needed him most.
While it was a disappointing result for the Aussies, the draw ultimately makes no difference in the end. They still qualify as the top of Pool A through to the quarter finals.
For Spain though, it could end up being the difference between qualification and elimination from the tournament.
The Spaniards will now eagerly await the result of the remaining Pool A games, with Japan vs India and Argentina vs New Zealand still to come.
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