Black Sticks men claim late winner to keep quarterfinal hopes alive

8:13 am on 26 July 2021

Striker Jacob Smith scored a late winner to keep the New Zealand men's hockey team's Olympic quarterfinal hopes alive.

The Black Sticks on the attack against India

Black Sticks men in action. Photo: Photosport

The Black Sticks men grabbed a late 4-3 victory over Spain last night in a thrilling final quarter in the second Pool A match for both sides at Tokyo's Oi Hockey Stadium.

After a disappointing 3-2 loss to India on Saturday, the Black Sticks knew they needed some points from the Spanish game to stay in the hunt for a quarterfinals spot. Late goals from Kane Russell and then the Smith winner with just three minutes left on the clock gave the New Zealanders the much-needed victory.

The Black Sticks opened the scoring with Stephen Jenness continuing his goal-scoring form from Saturday's match to claim the first goal just before the quarter break. The Wellington striker took the ball at speed into the circle, beat a defender and fired the ball into the left of the net.

Spain equalised off a loose rebound in the 26th minute but New Zealand skipper Blair Tarrant instantly restored the lead as he picked up the scraps from a Russell penalty corner drag flick.

The Black Sticsk went into the break 2-1 ahead but their European opponents were quick to equalise in the third quarter and then take the lead through two penalty corner goals.

Minutes into the nail-biting final quarter, Russell tied up the match with his trademark drag flick penalty corner going low and hard into the right-hand corner.

With just three minutes left on the clock it was the Black Sticks striker's moment to shine, with three-time Olympian Nick Wilson showing patience on the baseline to work the ball goalward where Smith reacted swiftly to pounce on the loose ball and pop in the match winner.

New Zealand 4 (Stephen Jenness 14 min, Blair Tarrant 27 min, Kane Russell 48 min, Jacob Smith 57 min)

Spain 3 (Enrique Gonzalez 26 min, Pau Quemadu 31 min, Marc Bolto 39 min)