Punjab whips Manipur 9-3 in another match

A couple of late goals allowed Mumbai to shut down a persistent Uttar Pradesh in the 64th senior National hockey championship here on Sunday.

With seven points from four games, Mumbai now moves to first-place. Punjab, which whipped Manipur 9-3, trails by a point and has a match in hand.

In a goalless first-half, Mumbai looked more likely to score. Upendra Pillay and Ravi Pareek fluffed a two-on-one opportunity after Pareek found a powerful hit from the flank too hot to handle in front of the goal.

It took a solo-run from Laxman Rao to break the deadlock. Rao, who shifted to Mumbai after representing Karnataka in national events, showed deft stick work to go past three defenders near the end line. The Uttar Pradesh goalkeeper, Ashish Mishra, rushed out, and Rao side-stepped him and placed the ball into the far post.

The West Zone champion then sat deep in its half, daring Uttar Pradesh to have a go. The dangerous strategy nearly misfired, and it was custodian Sudhir Dixit who kept his team alive with three fine saves.

In the 61st minute, an own-goal gave Mumbai some room to breathe. From the half-line, Sankalp Raghav gave the ball a fair whack down the middle. The goalkeeper chose to kick the innocuous attempt away, but was left stupefied when the ball ricocheted off his foot and into the goal.

A late penalty corner conversion by Jayanta Meitei soon put the result beyond doubt.

The results: Punjab 9 (Simranjit Singh 4, Ranjit Singh 3, Sanjeev Kumar, Satwinder Singh) bt Manipur 3 (N. Bhaskar 2, P. Priyokumar); Mumbai 3 (Laxman Rao, Jayanta Meitei, og) bt Uttar Pradesh 0.

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