February 26, 2017 10:44:56 pm
They finished second best last season, but Kalinga Lancers meant business this year as they defeated Dabang Mumbai 4-1 in a keenly-contested summit clash to win their maiden Hockey India League title.
Skipper Moritz Fuerste (30th, 58th) converted two penalty corners for the Lancers before Glenn Turner (18th minute) struck a field effort for the Odisha outfit, which lost the final last year to Jaypee Punjab Warriors.
For the first time finalist, Dabang Mumbai Affan Yousuf (33rd) scored the lone goal from a penalty corner variation.
Earlier in the day, Agustin Mazzilli scored a late field goal to help Uttar Pradesh Wizards register a 5-4 come-from-behind win over Delhi Waveriders and claim the bronze medal in the fifth edition of the tournament.
Trailing 3-4 with three minutes remaining in the game, the Argentine striker found himself at the right place at the right time to clinically finish Florent van Aubel’s assist from a tight angle to hand UP Wizards the lead and their first podium finish in the history of the tournament.
It was action-packed first quarter of the final in which both the Lancers and Dabang Mumbai created real scoring chances but both the teams failed to make them count.
In their first final of the HIL, it was Dabang Mumbai who were more assertive in the first quarter but they failed to get past an alert Andrew Charter in front of Lancers goal.
The Lancers finally broke the deadlock in the 18th minute through tournament’s highest scorer so far, Australian Glenn Turner, who found himself positioned to tap home a Mortuiz Fuerste pass from out side the D after it took a deflection from Lalit Upadhayay’s stick.
— Hockey India League (@HockeyIndiaLeag) 26 February 2017
A minute later, Dabang Mumbai secured a penalty corner but Charter stood like a rock in front of the Lancers goal to deny Harmanpreet Singh.
Dabang Mumbai captain Florian Fuchs then came tentalisingly close when he sprinted into the opposition circle, beating a host of defenders but his diagonal shot from the right went inches wide off the target even as a diving Gurjant Singh far away failed to get his stick.
Dabang Mumbai’s Affan Yousuf then set it up with a brilliant run for Manpreet Jr but the latter failed to keep his balance and unleashed a weak shot which was easily kept away by in-form Charter.
To add to Dabang Mumbai’s woes, Aran Zalewski won a penalty corner for the Lancers just at the stroke of half time and skipper Moritz Fuerste made no mistake in sending his flick into the centre of the net past FIH’s Goalkeeper of the Year, Harte.
The high intensity action continued in the third quarter with Dabang Mumbai showing more purpose.
Three minutes into the third quarter Kieran Govers’ secured a penalty corner for Dabang Mumbai and Affan Yousuf reduced the margin for his side with the help of a fine variation.
A brilliant Charter continued his fine show in front of the Lancers goal by pulling off terrific save to deny Gurjant Singh’s fierce reverse hit from top of the circle in the 38th minute.
In the final quarter, Dabang Mumbai went on the offensive in search of goals and penetrated the opposition circle numerous times but they erred in the final finishing.
— Hockey India League (@HockeyIndiaLeag) 26 February 2017
Trailing by two goals, Dabang Mumbai pressed hard and three minutes from final hooter Govers found the target on the second chance after Fuchs’ initial shot was saved by Charter but the goal was disallowed for dangerous ball after the Lancers went for video referral.
With time running out, Mumbai made desperate attempts to make a comeback and in the process earned three back-to-back penalty corners. Trailing by two goals, the Mumbai outfit went for indirect tries in search of field goals but they failed to capitalise on the opportunities.
Fuerste drove the final nail in Dabang Mumbai’s coffin when he converted his second penalty corner of the day a minute from the hooter.
Earlier in the bronze medal play-off match, it was the former champions Delhi Waveriders who were quick to get off the blocks when Justin Reid-Ross scored from a field effort in the 15th minute to hand his side a 2-0 lead.
UP Wizards’ Shamsher Singh (18th) levelled the scoreline three minutes into the second quarter with a fine field goal after receiving an inch perfect pass from Chinglensana Singh.
According to the new rules of the tournament, one field strike is counted as two.
The Waveriders restored their lead in the 24th minute when skipper Rupinder Pal Singh converted a penalty corner and the Delhi outfit went into the halfway break leading 3-2.
After the change of ends, the Waveriders extended their lead again through a penalty corner conversion by Rupinder in the 36th minute.
Argentine dragflicker Gonzalo Peillat (38th) pulled one back for the UP Wizards two minutes later from a penalty corner to narrow down the scoreline to 3-4.
Despite having the lions share of ball possession in the fourth quarter, the Waveriders failed to capitalise on their lead.
Trailing by a goal, the UP Wizards went all out attacking in the last few minutes of the match and made some ambitious forays into the rival citadel.
The UP Wizards efforts bore fruit three minutes from the final hooter as Mazzilli scored from a tight angle past Delhi keeper Vincent Vanasch after being fed brilliantly by Van Aubel.
The Waveriders had one last chance to draw level when they were awarded a penalty corner in the final minute of the match but Rupinder failed to find the target this time.
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