Kalinga Lancers Clinch Maiden Hockey India League Title
Kalinga Lancers, who had reached the final last season, defeated Dabang Mumbai 4-1 to clinch their maiden Hockey India League title.
Kalinga Lancers beat Dabang Mumbai to win HIL 2017
Kalinga Lancers won their maiden HIL title
Moritz Fuerste struck twice for the champions
Kalinga Lancers came out with a stupendous performance to defeat Dabang Mumbai 4-1 and clinch their maiden Hockey India League (HIL) title in Chandigarh on Sunday. The Lancers, who finished runners-up last season, went one better to clinch the 2017 crown. Australian forward Glenn Turner helped the Bhubaneswar-based team to take a 2-0 lead with his 18th minute field goal while German great and Lancers captain Moritz Fuerste scored in the 30th minute to extend the lead to 3-0.
India international Affan Yousuf pulled one back in the third quarter for Dabang Mumbai, via a penalty corner in the 33rd minute, but it was not enough as minutes from finish Fuerste put the final nail in the coffin to convert another penalty corner and make the scoreline 4-1.
Dabang Mumbai and Kalinga Lancers had finished first and second respectively in the league phase of the tournament. Two points are awarded for a field goal while only one is given for scoring via a penalty corner.
They finished second best last season, but Kalinga Lancers meant business this year. Meanwhile for Dabang Mumbai, this was their maiden final.
Earlier in the day, Agustin Mazzilli scored a late field goal to help Uttar Pradesh Wizards register a 5-4 come-from-behind win over Delhi Waveriders to claim the bronze medal in the fifth edition of the tournament.
It was action-packed first quarter of the final in which both Kalinga Lancers and Dabang Mumbai created goal-scoring chances but both teams failed to make them count.
Dabang Mumbai were more assertive in the first quarter but they failed to get past an alert Andrew Charter in front of Lancers goal.
The Lancers finally broke the deadlock in the 18th minute through tournament's highest scorer so far, Turner, who found himself positioned to tap home a Fuerste pass from outside the D after it took a deflection from Lalit Upadhayay's stick.
A minute later, Dabang Mumbai secured a penalty corner but Charter stood like a rock in front of the Lancers goal to deny Harmanpreet Singh.
Dabang Mumbai captain Florian Fuchs then came tentalisingly close when he sprinted into the opposition circle, beating a host of defenders but his diagonal shot from the right went inches wide off the target even as a diving Gurjant Singh far away failed to get his stick.
Dabang Mumbai's Affan Yousuf then set it up with a brilliant run for Manpreet Jr but the latter failed to keep his balance and unleashed a weak shot which was easily kept away by an in-form Charter.
To add to Dabang Mumbai's woes, Aran Zalewski won a penalty corner for the Lancers just at the stroke of half-time and Fuerste made no mistake in sending his flick into the centre of the net past FIH's Goalkeeper of the Year Harte.
The high intensity action continued in the third quarter with Dabang Mumbai showing more purpose.
Three minutes into the third quarter Kieran Govers' secured a penalty corner for Dabang Mumbai and Affan Yousuf reduced the margin for his side with the help of a fine variation.
A brilliant Charter continued his fine show in front of the Lancers goal by pulling off a terrific save to deny Gurjant's fierce reverse hit from top of the circle in the 38th minute.
In the final quarter, Dabang Mumbai went on the offensive in search of goals and penetrated the opposition circle numerous times but they erred in the final finishing.
Trailing by two goals, Dabang Mumbai pressed hard and three minutes from the final hooter Govers found the target on the second chance after Fuchs' initial shot was saved by Charter but the goal was disallowed for dangerous ball after the Lancers went for video referral.
With time running out, Mumbai made desperate attempts to make a comeback and in the process earned three back-to-back penalty corners. Trailing by two goals, the Mumbai outfit went for indirect tries in search of field goals but they failed to capitalise on the opportunities.
Fuerste drove the final nail in Dabang Mumbai's coffin when he converted his second penalty corner of the day two minutes from the hooter.
(With inputs from PTI)