Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Wizards produced a scintillating performance to beat two-time title holders Ranchi Rays 4-0 and jump to the third spot in the points table of the Hockey India League (HIL) in Lucknow on Thursday.
Field goals by Seve van Ass (37th minute) and Akashdeep Singh (60th) sealed the much-needed five points for the home side. The result kept UP Wizards in the hunt for the semi-finals.
When the two teams met earlier in the league, they split points with a 0-0 draw in Ranchi.
Placed at the bottom of the table, and three more games left in the pool stage, it was a must-win game for the home side to keep their semi-final hopes alive.
While both the teams went into the first break locked in a stalemate, Uttar Pradesh Wizards got off the blocks in the second quarter pressing hard in the circle and it paid off when they won the first penalty corner in the 19th minute.
But the chance went begging when Argentine drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat's strike was padded away by Ranchi goalkeeper Tyler Lovell.
Arthur van Doren fetched the home team their second penalty corner in the 26th minute but captain VR Raghunath's flick was blocked by Ranchi Rays' first rusher Manpreet Singh. The first half ended with the score reading 0-0.
A sloppy defence at the heart of the striking circle saw Ranchi Rays concede a field goal when van Ass was left unmarked. The Dutchman made no mistake in taking advantage of the opportunity as he tapped the ball past Lovell in the 37th minute, giving the home team a 2-0 lead.
The Rays came close to equalising in the 40th minute when Flynn Ogilvie took a shot at the post after a good assist by Timothy Deavin but an alert PR Sreejesh ensured that the Uttar Pradesh Wizards kept the lead.
The final quarter witnessed the Ranchi Rays hold much of the ball possession but they also lost their video referral when they asked for a penalty corner due to a stick tackle in the circle but the referral went against them.
Uttar Pradesh's defence was rock solid on Thursday as they denied the visitors any chance of scoring though Ranchi had as many as 12 circle entries.
Akashdeep Singh struck another field goal with just seconds to go for the final hooter to give his side a 4-0 win.
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Updated Date: Feb 17, 2017 00:58:54 IST