Great Britain's men overturned a three-goal deficit to claim a stunning 6-5 victory over hosts Spain as action continued today in the inaugural International Hockey Federation (FIH) Pro League.
Spain raced into a 3-1 lead inside nine minutes and led 4-2 at half-time at the Estadio Betero in Valencia.
But Britain scored three goals in seven second-half minutes through Mark Gleghorne, Adam Dixon and Phil Roper before David Condon added a sixth.
Spain scored a minute later but their opponents held on for the win.
The hosts were clearly full of confidence following their impressive shoot-out success over world champions Belgium in the FIH Pro League opener last Saturday (January 19), and they produced a sensational first quarter against a Britain team second best throughout the period.
Xavi Lleonart needed just two minutes to open the scoring when he fired into an unguarded goal after fine build-up play from Enrique Gonzalez before Dixon pulled Britain level a minute later with a fine backhand effort.
However, a three-goal blitz in just four first-quarter minutes put Spain firmly in control of the match, with Marc Bolto, Diego Arana and Albert Beltran giving them a fully deserved 4-1 advantage at the end of the first period.
Britain started the second period with a clear determination to show that the match was far from over and pulled a goal back thanks to a low finish from Zachary Wallace, who capitalised on Dutch umpire Coen van Bunge's decision to allow play to continue following a Spanish infringement to find the bottom corner.
Incredibly, the team coached by Danny Kerry netted twice in the third quarter to drag themselves level at 4-4 with Gleghorne slamming home a penalty corner before Dixon netted his second of the game, showing lightning quick reactions to find the target after Sam Ward's penalty corner drag-flick was saved by Spain goalkeeper Mario Garin.
🏑 España cae por la mínima (5-6) ante Gran Bretaña en la segunda jornada de la 🏆 FIH Pro League. Su proximo rival será Holanda en Valencia el 15 de febrero. #FIHProLeague #redsticks 📸 @rfe_hockey pic.twitter.com/v4XtR70cNT— CSD (@deportegob) January 25, 2019
A wonderful solo goal from team captain Roper put Britain into the lead two minutes into the fourth and final quarter before Condon's close-range volley made it 6-4 with three minutes remaining.
Just as it seemed that the result was settled, Spain through caution to the wind by replacing their goalkeeper with an outfield player.
It was a tactic that reaped huge rewards in their 2-2 draw with Belgium and had an instant impact against Britain, with Spain immediately winning a penalty corner that was dispatched into the roof of the net at the second attempt by Alvaro Iglesias to set up a frenetic finish to the contest.
A trio of penalty corners in the dying stages gave Spain the opportunity to claim a draw and force another shoot-out, but a brilliant stick save on the line from Ward followed by a crucial block from George Pinner denied them a leveller.
"To go 4-1 down it would have been very easy at that point to capitulate," Dixon, named man-of-the-match, said.
"But it is testament to our character and the work we have done over the last few months to make sure we can come back from those situations and to keep going right to the very end in what was a very close game against a very good Spanish team."
FIH Pro League action is due to continue this weekend with double headers taking place at opposite ends of the planet.
Tomorrow, the focus switches from Europe to South America as Argentina host Belgium's men and women at the Estadio Municipal de Hockey in Córdoba.
On Sunday (January 27), New Zealand's men and women welcome The Netherlands' national teams to the North Harbour Hockey Stadium in Auckland.