Punjab Warriors registered their second victory in this year’s Hero Hockey India League (HIL), beating Uttar Pradesh Wizards 3-2 at the Hockey Stadium here on Monday.
Warriors got their goals from Varun Kumar (12th minute), S.V. Sunil (27th) and Sandeep Singh (42nd), while Wizards skipper V.R. Raghunath converted two penalty corners in the seventh and 53rd minute.
Both the teams started the match with a fast-paced game and battled hard to keep the ball possession.
The visitors gained the lead in the seventh minute when Raghunath employed a lethal flick following a defensive error from the Warriiors’ defence.
However, Wizards’ joy was short-lived as five minutes later young Varun fired a flat shot to the right corner of the post and beat P.R. Sreejesh to level the scores 1-1.
In the second quarter, Punjab dominated the play and showed their flair. Three minutes before the half-time, Dharamvir Singh passed it to Kieran Govers on the top of the circle. The Australian passed it further to Indian star striker Sunil, who slotted the ball in to make it 2-1.
Sandeep Singh looked a bit wayward as he messed up three short corner chances Monday before converting on the fourth in the 42nd minute as the hosts’ forwards pressed hard for the domination.
Raghunath once again came to his team’s rescue when he fired a scorching flick that easily beat International Hockey Federation (FIH) Goalkeeper of the Year Jaap Stockmaan in the 53rd minute. The pace and the angle left the defensive unit bemused.
Wizards pressed hard for the equaliser in the dying minutes but Punjab’s experienced defence and midfield units managed to deny them.
"We came under pressure in the final quarter after Raghunath’s goal. But, we are happy that we kept it tight and our defence managed to hold them," Stockmaan, who was declared player of the match, said.
The tournament has a rest day on Tuesday.