Spain are bound for the quarter-finals after a third successive victory puts them in great shape in Pool A, Xavi Lleonart’s late goal seeing off New Zealand 3-2.
Lleonart was the star man throughout with some sublime skills and his coach Fredi Soyez praised his contribution.
“He gave us a great moment! I think he is playing at his highest level and is ready to make a big impact in this competition,” Soyez said of the Real Club de Polo player.
He added that this was a hugely significant victory, one that they had specifically targetted in their preparations. They had beaten Australia 1-0 but Soyez said this result will have of a bearing on their progression.
“This was a very different game from Australia; this was the one we had to win, the most important one. It’s really good for us and we are really happy with my team today.”
Sergi Enrique, meanwhile, added that Spain want to win as many games as possible to get as favourable quarter-final opponent as possible: “The objective of our team was to get through the group and qualify for the quarter-finals. We have done this now and will now have to think about the next game against Belgium to win the maximum points in the pool for the quarter-finals.
“This year, we have trained very hard at our three regional bases – in Barcleona, Madrid and Belgium – and then a big stage together for a month. I think we are in great shape because of it and the team believes we can win against anyone.”