Punjab Warriors beat Mumbai 3-1 to go top in HIL

Chandigarh, Jan 24 (IANS) Jaypee Punjab Warriors inflicted second consecutive loss on Dabang Mumbai with a 3-1 victory to go top of the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) at the Chandigarh Hockey Stadium here on Sunday evening.

Punjab scored all their goals before half-time. The first came through Armaan Qureshi’s field strike securing the winners two goals while the other was a penalty corner conversion by Christopher Ciriello.

For Mumbai, Harmanpreet Singh got the reducer through a penalty corner after the breather.

Australian great Jay Stacy-coached Mumbai, who lost their opening match to Kalinga Lancers on Thursday, remained the low-ranked team in the league table with two points from two matches.

Punjab took their points tally to top the chart with 11 points from three matches — one point ahead of second placed Delhi Waveriders.

On a foggy evening, Mumbai threatened early with young German attacker building up the attacks but his efforts didn’t bring the results — one one occasion, Roshan Minz failed to deflect the ball home and in another opportunity, the defenders were up for the clearance.

In the ninth minute, Australian Mark Knowles affected a cross-field diagonal ball from the left to compatriot Matt Gohdes, who supplied it to Qureshi and the latter beat Mumbai custodian David Harte for the field goal, which is counted as two in this edition of the tournament.

Mumbai fell short of ideas to respond to the goal and ended up conceding another in the 21st minute. This time, Qureshi found the foot of a defender and earned a penalty corner. Australian Christopher Ciriello’s powerful flick stunned Harte, who failed to react in time.

Midfielder Sardar Singh and Simon Orchard created more chances for Punjab but they were not able to add any more goal till the half-time.

Mumbai came out with much more energy after the change of ends and in the middle of the third quarter, earned two penalty corners. Harmanpreet converted the first one with a scorching grounder that went through goalkeeper Tristian Clemons. The Australian custodian made a diving save to his right to deny Harmanpreet in the second corner.

Later, Barry Dancer-coached Punjab could have regained the three-goal advantage but Jasjit Singh Kular’s flick was not enough in the fourth and final quarter.

A desperate Mumbai missed the chance to reduce the margin with a messy penalty corner variation. It was their final realistic shot at the goal of the match.

Gurwinder Singh Chandi and S.V. Sunil got two good opportunities but failed to score for Punjab as the match ended 3-1 in favour of the hosts.

Punjab goalkeeper Clemons of Australia was declared the Man-of-the-Match.

It was a good performance. Two wins out of three matches means that we are on right track at the moment,” Clemons said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

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