Ireland into Hockey World Cup final after beating Spain on penalties
Last Updated: 05/08/18 2:36pm
Ireland sealed their place in the final of the Hockey World Cup in London after beating Spain on penalties on Saturday.
After a 1-1 draw at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Ireland won the shootout 3-2 with Gillian Pinder scoring twice as the contest went to sudden death.
They will now face defending champions the Netherlands in the final, who are bidding to win the title for an eighth time after booking their spot in the last two following a shootout win over Australia.
Ireland have been the surprise package of the tournament after going in as the second-lowest-ranked team and then topping a group containing hosts England and India
"This performance was testament to the character and belief in our team," Ireland head coach Graham Shaw said. "It was warm out there, and I thought we looked the stronger side in the final minutes.
"That's down to the fitness of this team and how hard they work. This is just amazing and hopefully this will be a changing moment in our sport.
"I could not be more proud of this team, they deserve every bit of this."
Ireland made a dream start with Anna O'Flanagan touching in a penalty corner after only three minutes.
But Spain began to exert some concerted pressure and Alicia Magaz equalised nine minutes into the third quarter.
That was the way it stayed until full-time, meaning a second shootout for Ireland following their quarter-final victory over India.
Shaw's side made the perfect start as Pinder tucked her effort away but Georgina Oliva levelled with Spain's third one-on-one attempt.
With the goalkeepers in the ascendancy, Claudia Watkins looked like she might have won it for Ireland only for Lola Riera to immediately cancel that out.
After five attempts for each side, the sequence began again, this time with Spain going first, and, after Oliva's shot was saved by Ayeisha McFerran, Pinder confidently converted the winning shot.
"What a feeling. I didn't think this would happen," Shaw added.
"What a group of people, it just shows what can happen when the right people come together.
"The support has been phenomenal, people have made the journey here to support us, that's amazing."