Uttar Pradesh Wizards outsmarted table topper Delhi Waveriders 4-1 in a Hero Hockey India League match here on Thursday.
Wizards' fifth victory propelled the team to the third place with 32 points after completing its quota of 12 matches. Waveriders, which gave a patchy performance resulting in its first defeat of the tournament, remains at the peak with 49 points after completing its engagements.
Both teams started off cautiously.
The host aimed at maintaining its supremacy while the tourists looked in no mood to concede any ground.
Waveriders' forwards searched for open spaces while Wizards midfielders moved well to close the gaps as the contest warmed up with a tactical battle.
Wizards showed a good grip over the proceedings early in the second period and crafted two impressive attacks.
Though Wizards garnered two penalty corners in the last six minutes of the second quarter, the Waveriders' custodian Nicolas Jacobi stood like a rock to protect the home citadel.
The touring side delivered the first blow when Jeroen Hertzberger took the ball on the right flank, moved about 30 yards and executed a spectacular reverse flick in the 39th minute.
The third quarter turned more dramatic as Wizards finished off a well-coordinated attack to take a 2-0 lead in the 49th minute.
Dutchman Hertzberger again scripted the plot as he set up Nithin Thimmaiah on the left and the latter made a diving effort inside the circle.
Jacobi, supported by a defender, gave his best but the ball slipped out and S.K. Uthappa finished off the move to trigger celebrations in the Wizards camp.
Waveriders tried to fight back, but met with hard luck as Akashdeep Singh's goal in the 52th minute stood disallowed. Wizards widened the lead with Pradhan Somanna making the most of an open chance in the 56th minute.
Andrew Haywards converted Waveriders' third penalty corner to reduce the margin in the 64th minute. However, Malayalan Gunasekar hit the mark within seconds to make it 4-1.
Waveriders will meet Jaypee Punjab Warriors in one semifinal, while Wizards will take on Ranchi Rhinos in the other.
Delhi Waveriders 1 (Andrew Haywards 64) lost to Uttar Pradesh Wizards 4 (Jeroen Hertzberger 39, S.K. Uthappa 49, Pradhan Somanna 56, Malayalan Gunasekar 64).
Keywords: Hockey India League