Punjab Warriors register stunning comeback against Kalinga Lancers in HIL
The kind of performance Jaypee Punjab Warriors showed in the opening half, it looked highly unlikely they that will manage to snatch a point from the tie, leave along winning the contest. But, they fought like warriors in the second-half and pulled off an incredible win to cement top-spot in the Hockey India League points table.
Punjab got the better of the Kalinga Lancers 2-1 in a full-capacity Kalinga Stadium, against the run of play, as the home team slumped to its fourth loss of the season. The result was quite painful for the home supporters, who witnessed their team dominated the play right from the word go, but lack of composure cost them dearly.
The Lancers started the game on the right foot by making some early moves and the almost found themselves at the front but Jaap Stockmann made a superb save to deny the home team. Kalinga, meanwhile, kept the pressure on the visiting side and soon cracked their defence.
Gurjinder Singh scored the opening goal in the 24th minute when his dragflick whistled into the goal, beating Stockmann. Kalinga, again, got a penalty corner few minutes later on a sloppy defensive work from Sandeep Singh, but they failed to double the lead.
Kalinga, after completely dominating the game in the first-half, looked well on course of upsetting the table toppers, but their dream was soon crushed when Punjab made a stunning comeback in the second-half of the match.
Sandeep, who has a terrible game at the back, scored the equaliser in the 42nd minute of the match on a dragflick. Punjab’s star flicker made no mistake in firing the ball on the top-right corner, giving goalkeeper Harjot Singh no chance of stopping the ball.
Both sides pushed for the winner in the final 15 minutes of the game and they got plenty of opportunities for that. But, it was Punjab that clinched the encounter through Affan Yusuf’s reverse hit that went into the goal.
Kalinga clearly looked rattled by letting the game slipped away from them and the frustration got the better of Gurjinder, who hit Malak Singh with the stick. Gurjinder, however, was lucky to get away with only a yellow card and warning from umpires.