Murugappa Gold Cup Hockey: Indian Army beats holder ONGC 3-2 to enter semis

Indian Army XI beat defending champion ONGC 3-2 to book a spot in the semifinal, while Central Secretariat stayed in the race for the semifinals by winning 2-0 against Mumbai on day seven.

The day seven action between Central Secretariat and Mumbai Hockey Association.   -  R. Ravindran

Indian Army XI became the first team to enter the semifinals of the 2018 Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament by beating defending champion Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) 3-2 at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium here on Wednesday. In the second match of the day, Chennai Hockey Association came back from two goals down to hold Bengaluru Hockey Association for a 2-2 draw.

In the third match, Central Secretariat (CSE) playing in a must-win match beat Mumbai Hockey Association 2-0 and kept its semifinal hopes alive.

Indian Army started positively against defending champion ONGC and went close in the 18th minute from open play through Sanjay Toppo. In the next minute, Toppo’s throughball from the left wing set up a one-on-one situation for Rajneesh Salaria, who finished calmly past the keeper. Army kept on the pressure and took advantage of ONGC’s lethargic midfield and defence which looked uncharacteristically fragile.

Sanjay Toppo made it 2-0 for Army in the 23rd minute with a smart flick at the near post, while Indian international Mandeep Antil, missed a chance at the other end for ONGC. However, ONGC pulled one back in the 34th minute when the umpire awarded a penalty stroke for a stick check inside the area and Sumit converted from the spot.

The goal did not change things for ONGC in the second half, as its defenders were caught ball watching when Biraj Ekka’s 45th minute shot sailed over the bar. Army went 3-1 up in the 50th minute when Rajnath finished from close range after receiving a pass from the right. Army’s third goal injected the much-needed urgency into ONGC as Sumit Kumar made it 3-2 in the 61st minute by deflecting Tyron Piereira’s pass from 16 yards. Army held on to the lead for the next nine minutes and sealed a semifinal spot.

In the final match of the day, CSE scored as early in the eighth minute against Mumbai through Pawan Kumar’s dragflick. Mumbai forwards kept up the attack in search of an equaliser, but were unable to find the final pass inside the area.

In the second half, Mumbai was the better side going forward, but failed to score due to poor finishing and passing in the area. In the final seconds of the match, Shankar Patil made it 2-0 for CSE when he scored from a penalty corner. CSE will face Indian Railways in a do-or-die match on Thursday.

Results Day 7:

Indian Army XI (Rajneesh Salaria 18’, Sanjay Toppo 23’, Rajnath 50’) beat ONGC (Sumit 34’, Sumit Kumar 61’)

Chennai Hockey Association (Hassan Basha 48’, Veera Pamizhan 55’) drew Bengaluru Hockey Association (M. Rajendra 14’, M.B. Cariappa 35’)

Central Secretariat (Pawan Kumar 8’, Shankar Patil 70’) beat Mumbai Hockey Association (0)