Dutchman Jaap Stockmann showed why he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world at the moment, as the Netherlands international made some breathtaking saves for the Jaypee Punjab Warriors against the Uttar Pradesh Wizards at the International Hockey Stadium, Mohali.
Thanks to Stockmann’s superlative effort in front of the goal, the Warriors managed to clinch a tense 3-2 victory. The 30-year-old Dutchman was bombarded with plenty of hits in the final quarter, but he held to his nerves and ensured that Punjab walk away with five points from the tie.
Stockmann overshadowed the performance of India’s vice-captain PR Sreejesh on the other side of the pitch. Sreejesh also made some fine saves and helped Wizards to remain within the touching distance of the Punjab Warriors.
It was always going to be a battle of India’s finest drag flickers – VR Raghunath and Sandeep Singh – and the match witnessed some firing flicks from both of them. Raghunath scored twice while Sandeep also gunned one in to seal the game.
Jaap Stockmann to the rescue
The opening goal of the match came off Raghunath’s stick in the seventh minute for the UP Wizards on the first penalty corner of the match. However, Wizards’ lead was short-lived when Varun Kumar equalised for the home side, five minutes later. Despite having Sandeep in the ranks, Punjab allowed Varun to take the flick and their decision was rewarded when he fired the ball past Sreejesh. The opening quarter ended at one goal apiece, with both teams were on equal terms.
Punjab took the lead in the closing stages of the second quarter when SV Sunil showed superb skills to beat Uttar Pradesh’s defence. The hosts went into the second half 2-1 up and clearly on top, despite less ball possession. Sandeep scored his fourth goal of the tournament and first of the match through a penalty corner and made it a one-way traffic for Punjab. Wizards, however, didn’t surrender the match and clawed back into the contest through Raghunath.
In the final quarter, Raghunath completed his brace and scored through a penalty corner as the match headed for an exciting finish. Brimming with confidence, Wizards created a number of opportunities at the end, but Stockmann kept them at bay.Published 26 Jan 2015, 23:58 IST