Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar/Panaji, Feb 18:
Kalinga Lancers today beat defending champions Jaypee Punjab Warriors comprehensively by a 7-0 margin in the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) at the Hockey Stadium in Chandigarh. With this, the Odisha team qualified for the semi finals.
Needing only a draw in their final game to qualify for the semi-finals, the last year’s runners up ran riot with goals from Adam Dixon (ninth minute), Moritz Furste (24th, penalty corner), Lalit Upadhyay (34th) and Dharamvir Singh (39th).
The win took second-placed Kalinga’s points tally to 28 as they and Dabang Mumbai are the two teams who have reached the knock-outs to be held here.
Bottom-placed Punjab remained at the bottom of the table with 17 points from eight matches.
Punjab, who were coming into the match with three consecutive defeats, continued their slump against Kalinga, who lost to the former in last edition’s final.
Punjab got off to a disastrous start as they were behind by two goals in the early ninth minute when English midfielder Dixon made amends for a trapping mistake during a penalty corner execution as he gathered the ball and ran past couple of defenders on the right before slotting in from a tight angle.
Punjab showed good character after conceding the lead. They made good attacking build-ups and Baljit Singh tested Kalinga custodian Andrew Charter with a back-hander from the top of the ‘D’.
The hosts earned three penalty corners in the first five minutes of the second quarter but none of them were trapped properly. Kalinga too missed one penalty corner with a mistrapping by the stopper.
But Kalinga corrected the mistake in their next attempt and German talisman Furste fired a grounder to the right, beating the outstretched right foot of Clemons to mark his seventh penalty corner goal and ninth of the campaign.
Punjab too had their chances, as many as three penalty corners, but the efforts from Mink van der Weerden and Mark Gleghorne were not enough to beat Kalinga goalkeeper Charter and his defence.
Kalinga continued their good game and made it 5-0 in the 34th minute as Billy Bakker, from the top of the circle, played a square pass to the left where Upadhhay was stationed unmarked. The India forward hammered home at the near post, much to the disappointment of the home camp.
Five minutes later, it was 7-0 and it seemed very easy as Punjab defence was out of place. Gurjinder Singh dribbled past two guarding defenders guarding the left post before passing to Malak Singh, who chipped from the baseline to the front of the goal. And only thing an unmarked Dharmvir did was to tap the ball in.
Few minutes later Lalit was again at the opponent circle but he failed to reach in time to meet a baseline cross from Pardeep Mor.
Punjab threw everything at the end but couldn’t pull back even a goal. S.V. Sunil thought to have opened their account for the night with 3.15 minutes left on the clock but the goal was disallowed for a ball obstruction before it reached the Karnataka forward.
It completed a harrowing night for Barry Dancer-coached side, which is now on the verge of elimination.
They play their final league game on Monday against Delhi Waveriders, who have 21 point from eight games.
Uttar Pradesh are fourth with 20 points from seven matches, while former champions Ranchi Rays are fifth with 18 points from nine games.
Hero Young Achiever of the Match went to Matthew Dawson, Man of the Match was bagged by Dharamvir Singh, Goal of the Match was handed over to Adam Dixon and Most Entertaining Player of the Match was given to Lalit Upadhyay. (With IANS inputs)