Bangalore, Oct 1: Punjab scored a comprehensive 4-1 win over defending champions Haryana to enter the final of Hockey India’s second senior men’s National hockey championship, here on Monday.
Leading 2-0 at half-time, Punjab scored through penalty corner specialist Gurjinder Singh (15th, 21st), Satbir Singh (51st) and skipper Sarvanjit Singh (55th) before Haryana notched a consolation goal in the 58th minute through Naveen Antil.
Punjab looked the better drilled outfit with a lot of character and composure while Haryana committed far too many errors that put them on the defensive for much of the match before Naveen Antil scored a consolation goal 12 minutes from close.
Punjab controlled and dictated the pace from the start to enjoy the upper hand. There was variety in their moves with the forwards never starved of passes from the midfield.
Up front, the Punjab forwards showcased their skill and pace to repeatedly wrong foot the defenders while at the back, they always had enough men to repel Haryana attacks.
In contrast, Haryana depended far too much on ace midfielder Sardar Singh to construct moves that tended to be right-wing oriented and with the Punjab defenders excelling in marking and covering, the attacks came to naught.
Playing from very deep positions, Sardar Singh did his best, but he appeared more effective in the second half when he decided to join the attacks and even forced a penalty corner, Haryana’s first of two in the 40th minute, but could not convert.
It was Gurjinder, the collegian from Mohali, who laid the foundation for Punjab’s victory with two penalty corner conversions in the 16th and 22nd minutes. The first drag-flick was high and to the left of goalkeeper Nanak Singh while the second was low to the right that beat the custodian all ends up.
After the change of ends, Punjab stepped up the pace and struck twice more through Satbir Singh who flicked home a pass from Akashdeep Singh and then set up Sarvanjit for the fourth goal with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Haryana enjoyed their best moments in the last quarter when they forced a few good moves and Naveen Antil found the boards from open play to provide some solace to last year’s champions.
“We played to a definite plan today and that was to be selective in going on the attacks. That helped us to have sufficient men in the defence.
“We also scored goals at regular intervals and that helped us to keep Haryana under pressure. Yes, Gurjinder also made a big difference. He is a fine prospect and hopefully, he will improve further,” said Punjab coach Baljit Singh Saini.
Hockey India Press Release