Breathtaking penalty win sends Ireland through to Hockey World Cup final
Ireland have reached the World Cup final after beating Spain on penalties.
Dominance in the game went to and fro, but Ireland created the better chances throughout — winning five penalty corners to Spain's zero.
It was the first of those penalty corners that yielded an early opening goal, when a shot was turned in by Anna O'Flanagan. It came at the beginning of a first quarter where Ireland had the Spanish defence under siege, but by the end, the deficit remained at just one goal.
Spain regained their composure in the second quarter, and levelled the score in the third quarter when Alicia Magaz slotted home a from open play, inside the circle.
It was perhaps the only moment that the resolute Irish defence had been unduly troubled throughout the game despite pressure, and the score held at 1-1.
And so, just like the previous clash against India, Ireland were sent to the shootout once more.
Gillian Pinder scored Ireland's first shot on the rebound, before Aisha Ayeisha McFerran denied the first Spain penalty. Anna O'Flanagan was then forced to retake her penalty and hit the frame of the goal. McFerran then got low to again deny Spain and rack up her fifth shootout save of the tournament.
Roisin Upton sent Ireland's third penalty wide of the mark, and tensions were ramped up when McFerran was beaten at the third time of asking. Meeke was denied on Ireland's fourth attempt, handing Spain the advantage.
But Spain's fourth penalty taker spurned the chance — chipping the ball into the net but breaking the 8-second time limit on the shot.
Chloe Watkins, Ireland's hero against India, stood up once more, and cleverly finished beneath the Spanish keeper. Again, Spain came back with an incredibly cheeky chipped finish over McFerran to send the game to sudden death.
Spain went first in sudden death, and McFerran stood down the Spanish captain. Gillian Pinder's penalty, Ireland's sixth of the day, saw her score her second of the day, sweeping the ball past the Spanish keeper and sweeping Ireland into their first ever Hockey World Cup final.