Hockey Punjab beat Uttar Pradesh Hockey 2-1 in a shootout to clinch the 11th Hockey India Senior Men's National Championship title being held in Pune. The teams were deadlocked at 0-0 at the end of regulation time.
In the third-place play-off match, Hockey Karnataka beat Hockey Maharashtra 5-2 to finish third.
Punjab and Uttar Pradesh started the match on a rousing note, with both teams creating chances. The first half ended goalless in a closely contested half between the two heavyweights.
The deadlock continued in the second half as well, with neither of the teams coming close to scoring in regulation time.
Hockey Punjab goalkeeper Kamalbir Singh emerged as the hero of the match, making as many as four saves in the shootout to help his team clinch the title.
Hockey Punjab coach lauds team
Speaking about their victory, Hockey Punjab Coach Balwinder Singh lauded his team for keeping composure and winning the match in the end.
"We have as many as 10 players who are playing in the Nationals for the first time, so this win shows how talented this group is. We expected this kind of challenge in the final, our boys showed great character," he said.
The team, led by ace Indian defender Rupinder Pal Singh, ticked all the boxes and Kamalbir Singh was all praise for the skipper.
"The team was led by Rupinder Pal Singh, hence we were confident in our defense. Our goalkeeper Kamalbir Singh stood tall and made excellent saves in the shootout. So it was a great game and I am happy to be on the winning side," he added.
The coach said going into the tournament with a young team had paid rich dividends.
"I had taken a risk of selecting a young side and I think I have got my reward. Winning a national championship is a great achievement for a coach, and of course for players as well. It will be a stepping stone for these young players to achieve their dream of playing for the country," Kamalbir Singh explained.
Hockey Karnataka wins third place
Meanwhile, Hockey Karnataka defeated Hockey Maharashtra 5-2 to clinch third place in the tournament.
Hockey Karnataka seized the initial advantage and surged ahead with an early two-goal cushion, courtesy of goals from Kumar Yathish B (3') and captain Mohd. Raheel (5').
Not giving up easily, Hockey Maharastra went on to equalize with a brace from their skipper, Taleb Shah, in the 24th and 33rd minutes.
But that wasn't enough as goals from Pavan Madivalar (37') and Chiranth Somanna N.D (45') put Hockey Karnataka in the driver's seat at the end of the third quarter.
Likhith's goal in the 52nd minute ensured Hockey Karnataka finished their engagement with a bronze medal.