In a war of attrition between two close European rivals, Spain were able to reverse their most recent form against Spain to book their place in the Champions Challenge 1 semi-finals.
The second quarter-final of the event in Glasgow saw Belgium, who finished second in pool A take on Spain, who took third place in pool B. The Red Sticks and the Red Panthers are evenly matched in many ways – Spain have a world ranking of 14, Belgium are ranked just two above at 12; both teams are full of young players and so are building for the future; and both teams desperately want to get into the Champions Trophy.
As expected, this was a close game. There were goals at both ends of the first half, Spain took the lead in the 6th minute when captain Rocio Ybarra scored from a penalty corner, and Belgium hit back through Alix Gerniers (31') from a lovely piece of passing play that left the Spaniards causing shadows.
The second half ebbed and flowed for both sides. Spain enjoyed a strong opening 10 minutes and they came close on many occasions, particularly through the surging runs of Beatriz Perez and Maira Gomez. To counter the danger, Belgium worked hard to get players behind the ball and put pressure on the ball carrier.
With just 15 minutes to go, this match turned into a war of attrition with both teams running hard to find that elusive goal. Belgium's cause wasn't helped when Gerniers received a yellow card and left the Red Sticks with a player advantage. Both teams played furious hockey to the end, but the final score remained 1-1.
In the shoot-out, both teams showed a lot of nerves, and the keepers were able to force errors so that at the end of the first five attempts on goal the score stood at 2-2. In sudden death, it was Belgium's Alix Gerniers who was unable to get past Spain's 'keeper Maria Lopez de Eguilaz Zubiria.
The goal-scorers in the shoot-out were: Spain: Alicia Magaz 2, Lola Riera. Belgium: Anouk Raes, Alix Gerniers.
After the game a distraught Jill Boon said: "That was such a huge disappointment, we wanted to win this tournament. It is the perfect tournament to get good competitive experience; we have a very young squad and you can train as hard as you want, but you can't buy experience like this."
Spain's coach Adrian Locke was delighted with his team's performance. "The last time we played Belgium was in the Olympic qualifier, which we lost. And Belgium have overtaken us in the rankings, so this was a very good result."