Punjab Warriors defeated Delhi Waveriders 3-1 in the Hockey India League (HIL) after a pulsating battle at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here Friday.
New Delhi: Punjab scored through Sandeep Singh (8th minute), Satbir Singh (64th) and Shivendra Singh (66th) while Rupinder Pal Singh (65th) struck for Delhi. The victory was a sweet one for Punjab, who had not beaten Delhi so far in the two editions of HIL. Punjab had lost their home match against Delhi 1-3 Jan 25.
An exciting contest was in the offing amongst the two top teams and it certainly lived up to the expectations. A bigger crowd than the opening game here Thursday added to the lively atmosphere. Punjab, knowing they needed to be at their best against a consistent Delhi outfit, attacked right from the start.
The aggressive approach got them the visitors their first penalty corner in the 8th minute. Ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh made no mistake and put the ball into the right corner of the goal. Delhi counter-attacked and after a couple of missed opportunities, Spain's Andres Mir Bel got them a penalty corner. Rupinder Pal Singh, who had been fairly accurate in converting the penalty corners prior to the game, failed to get it past Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann.
The home team got another chance to level the match early in the second quarter but it went begging. Rupinder's powerful hit found the legs of defender Gurmail Singh, who was left grimacing in pain and eventually had to be taken off the field.
Delhi were awarded their third penalty corner after Gurmail's injury but Stockmann again stood like a rock. Punjab went into half time holding on to their slender lead. They could have got the second goal cushion at the start of the third quarter but Sandeep could not find the back of the net.
Punjab created a field goal opportunity this time only for S.V. Sunil to squander it. He made mess of a good pass standing right in front of the goal.
Both teams kept attacking each other's post in the last quarter until Satbir Singh's elevated hit from close range made it 2-0 for Punjab. With less than six minutes left, it seemed like the decisive goal. However, Delhi earned a penalty corner in counter-attack and Rupinder's cracking hit proved too quick for Stockmann. The match was alive again with the hosts chasing the equaliser.
Shivendra Singh flicked a pass in to make it 3-1. It was enough to have the Punjab dug-out celebrating. Delhi got two back to back penalty corners but failed to convert them.