Ranchi Rhinos charged past Mumbai Magicians 3-1 in a Hockey India League match at the Astroturf Hockey Stadium here on Friday.

Matching the electrifying atmosphere was the start of the match that was equally engrossing with the host making a series of inroads with some incisive play.

Making most of the moves down the right, where India star Sandeep Singh lookedsvulnerable owing to lack of support, the Rhinos went ahead in the ninth minute with a brilliant opportunistic goal by Vikas Chaudhary.

In the ninth minute, a defence-opening cross from the right got deflected off a defender’s stick and Vikas, who was following the ball, hit in with a reverse stick to send the 7000-odd spectators into raptures.

The best part of the Ranchi team’s good play was the well-oiled coordination between the defence and the forward line. The home side increasingly began to dominate the proceedings and struck twice in the second quarter. After a right-wing cross saw goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh palm the ball away, an alert Mandeep Singh dashed in to score with another reverse stick shot. Austin Smith, who had a good match, came up with some quick runs that split the rival defence.

One such move earned the match’s first penalty corner and he made it count with a terrific drag flick for the third goal. The half time gave the Magicians some respite from the bombardment. Change of ends brought a lot of discipline in the Mumbai’s team’s play.

The defence was tightened and there was always a defender following the other to clear the loose balls. The Rhinos also became a bit defensive giving the Mumbai players a lot more space to figure out good moves.

Though Sandeep scooped the team’s first penalty corner over, at the start of the third quarter, Magicians found the mark through Chinglensena Singh’s push, after custodian Francisco Cortes saved the first shot.

The result: Ranchi Rhinos 3 (Vikas 9, Mandeep 23, Austin Smith 29) bt Mumbai Magicians 1 (Chinglensena Singh 44).

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