Jaypee Punjab Warriors continued their fine form and defeated Uttar Pradesh Wizards 3-2 in a keenly-contested league match to register their second consecutive win of the third Hero Hockey India League (HIL) on Monday.
The Warriors scored a goal each in the first three quarters of the match through Varun Kumar (12th minute), SV Sunil (28th) and Sandeep Singh (42nd), while VR Raghunath (7th, 53rd) converted two penalty corners for the visitors.
By virtue of this win, the Warriors have consolidated their position at the top of the standings with 12 points from three games, while the Wizards have garnered three points from two matches.
But the Wizards were the dominant side on display in the opening quarter and took the early lead when Raghunath converted a penalty corner.
The Warriors replied back five minutes later through Varun’s penalty corner conversion to end the first quarter locked at one goal apiece.
The Warriors, who were playing before thin home crowd and under biting cold conditions, were slow to get off the blocks.
But they fought hard in the subsequent three quarters. Sunil scored a fine diving backhand goal past Wizards goalkeeper PR Sreejesh to give his side the edge at the halfway mark.
The Warriors got a chance to add to their lead seconds before the half-time when they earned their third penalty corner, but Sandeep Singh wasted the opportunity.
Shortly after change of ends, the Warriors earned their fourth penalty corner, but Sandeep once again let go off the opportunity.
But two minutes before the end of third quarter, Sandeep finally found his touch and converted Warriors’ fifth penalty corner with precision to make the scoreline 3-1 in favour of the home team.
Raghunath livened up the match when he scored his second goal of the day from a set piece in the 53rd minute.
In the remaining minutes of the match, the Wizards pressed hard in search of the equaliser and in the process earned another penalty corner, but this time Raghunath was denied by a brilliant Jaap Stockmann in front of the Warriors goal.
Both the goalkeepers, Stockmann and Wizards’ Sreejesh produced brilliant display of goalkeeping and produced numerous valiant saves to keep their teams in the match.
The Warriors had defeated Kalinga Lancers 4-2 yesterday while they had drawn their opening game against Dabang Mumbai.
The Wizards will next face Kalinga Lancers on Thursday in Lucknow, while Warriors will take on defending champions Delhi Waveriders in New Delhi on Friday.
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