Karnataka in summit clash

Karnataka in summit clash

Naveen, Bijawad find target as hosts edge past fighting Punjab 2-1

Karnataka in summit clash



Goals from Naveen Kumar and Vinayak Bijawad helped Karnataka edge past Punjab 2-1 in a hard-fought encounter and enter the final of the 64th IHF National hockey championship for the Rangaswamy Cup at the KSHA stadium on Tuesday. 

The hosts thus emerged table toppers rounding off their league campaign with 11 points from five matches while Punjab went out of contention with six points from four matches. 

The other finalists will be decided on Wednesday with Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh being the contenders. Mumbai are in second spot now, finishing their engagements with 10 points from five matches after handing a 21-3 hammering to Manipur on Tuesday.  Uttar Pradesh, who crushed Jharkhand 11-0 in the first match, have seven points from four matches and play Manipur on Wednesday, where a win will see them level on points with Mumbai.

Goal difference will be the deciding factor in such a context and as of now, Mumbai are ahead on that count. They have a goal difference of +21 while UP are on +9, leaving the latter with the task of winning by a 13-goal margin against Manipur if they are to make the final.

Karnataka were upto the task in their crucial match against Punjab with the home side adopting an aggressive style. 

In the ninth minute, an alert Naveen fired the ball home through a penalty corner after the initial drag-flick by Deepak Bijawad ricocheted off Punjab custodian Baljit Singh.

Defence was Karnataka’s strong point in the first half as they foiled Punjab’s incisive raids on both flanks. Two penalty corners were saved with custodian Mahan Gowda alert under the bar as Karnataka thwarted attempts from Punjab’s Avtar Singh and Satwinder Singh in the closing stages of the session. 

Lucky break

Punjab then got a lucky break in the 50th minute as Gowda’s miscued clearance off an Avtar hit went into his own goal for the equaliser. 

Vinayak missed a chance to score in the 53rd minute off a pass from Bijju Yirkal with his hit going wide off the far post. However, he made up for the lost opportunity with a clever scoop in the 57th minute, presenting Karnataka the eventual winner. 

Karnataka held onto the slender lead pegging back Punjab’s attacks in the closing moments to pocket full points. 

DH News Service

Results: Uttar Pradesh: 11 (Prem Kumar 5th, 13th, 38th, Ravi Bharti 18th, 61st, Imran Khan 37th, 64th, Diwakar Ram 47th, 51st, 59th, 70th) bt Jharkhand: 0; Mumbai: 21 (Victo Singh 4th, 20th, 23rd, 24th, 26th, 40th, 55th, 64th, 67th, Laxman Rao 2nd, Jayanta Meitei 3rd, 16th, Ravi Pareek 5th, 37th, 57th, Vikram Singh 21st, 25th, Rajat Sharma 31st, Upendra Pillay 45th, 48th, Gnanendrajit Ningombam 69th) bt Manipur: 3 (P Priyokumar 10th, L Punachandra 27th, 41st); Karnataka: 2 (Naveen Kumar N 9th, Vinayak Bijawad 57th) bt Punjab: 1 (own goal 50th). 

Wednesday’s matches: Uttar Pradesh vs Manipur (2.30 pm); Jharkhand vs Punjab (4.30 pm).



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