HIL: Last-gasp goal keeps UP Wizards in the race

Uttar Pradesh Wizards narrowly avoided a defeat against Kalinga Lancers in the Hockey India League on Friday with a last-gasp goal via a penalty corner. Though UPW remains at the bottom of the table for now with KL placed second, the gap is narrowed.

UPWizardsvKalingaLancers

Uttar Pradesh Wizards (in blue) in action against Kalinga Lancers on Friday.   -  PTI

A successful referral as the hooter went, a penalty corner, and Gonzalo Peillat finally coming good when it mattered the most helped Uttar Pradesh Wizards (UPW) stay in the race for a semifinal spot after drawing 2-2 against Kalinga Lancers here on Friday. All four goals came off penalty corners.

More importantly, it denied three extra points to the opposition and kept it from climbing to the top of the leaderboard and becoming the first team to all but seal a spot in the last four. Though UPW remains at the bottom of the table for now with KL placed second, the gap is narrowed.

Playing its first home game of the Hockey India League this season, UPW was all-out attacking but was thwarted repeatedly by Kalinga goalkeeper Andrew Charter. UPW was the first off the mark with captain V.R. Raghunath scoring from a penalty corner (PC) in the 15th minute. Seconds later, KL skipper Moritz Fuerste levelled in similar fashion and then put his team ahead through another PC.

Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Wouter Jolie were all guilty of missing easy chances even as Charter ensured nothing went past him in open play. At the other end, P.R. Sreejesh did the same for UPW, clearing attempts from Aran Zalewski and Dharamvir Singh to deny KL. It took a long aerial scoop in the last two seconds and Pradeep Mor's unnecessary tackling of the ball that looked to be going out of the backline for UPW to seek a foul and level scores.

On Saturday, Jaypee Punjab Warriors will take on Dabang Mumbai in a crucial clash that may well decide its continuation in the race for a semifinals spot. A win for Mumbai, already sitting pretty on top of the table, will mean the team will most likely advance to its first ever semifinal in five editions.

The result

Uttar Pradesh Wizards 2 (V.R. Raghunath 1 PC, Gonzalo Peillat 1 PC) drew with Kalinga Lancers 2 (Moritz Fuerste 2 PCs).

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