Karnataka romp into final

Bangalore, May 14 (IANS) Hosts Karnataka made their second entry into the final of the Senior National Men’s Hockey Championship for the Rangaswamy Cup with a 2-1 win over Punjab here Tuesday.

The narrow victory in their concluding league match took Karnataka’s tally to 11 as they advanced to the final for the first time since 1968 when the erstwhile Mysore qualified for the title round and finished runners-up.

Earlier, Mumbai also completed their league engagements with a 21-3 hammering of winless Manipur to finish on 10 points. Skipper Victo Singh led the goal-glut with nine. However, Mumbai’s progress to the final hinge on the outcome of Uttar Pradesh vs Manipur game Wednesday.

Mumbai have a healthy goal-difference of +21 while Uttar Pradesh, who thrashed Jharkhand 11-0 in the day’s first match, have seven points and +9 goal difference and need to beat Manipur by a minimum of 13 goals to advance to the final.

Right from the word go, Karnataka went all out as they knew that only a win would take them to final. The first goal resulted out of a penalty corner in the ninth minute. Deepak Bejiwad took a grounder but the Punjab goalkeeper padded away and the rebound was stopped by Naveen Manupatti, who unleashed a stiff shot from the top of circle to the boards.

Punjab and Karnataka played out the best game in the league with equal exchanges and both the teams had their share of missed chances. Punjab needed a draw and they went all out in the second half and scored the equaliser in the 50th minute through an own goal. The ball that was shot from outside the circle, hit the goal post and as it rebounded it was accidentally touched by the Karnataka goalkeeper Mahan Gowda and trickled into the goal.

Karnataka struck a second time in the 57th minute and that goal proved to be the match-winner. Picking up a pass, Kush neatly dodged two Punjab defenders and pushed the ball to Vinayak Bejiwad to score.

Earlier, goals by Prem Kumar (4), Ravi Bharati (2), Imran Khan (2) and Diwakar Ram (3) featured Uttar Pradesh’s runaway win over Jharkhand.

Mumbai did as they pleased as skipper Victo Singh (9), Jayanth Meitei (2), Ravi Pareek (3), Vikram Singh (2), Upendra Pillay (2), Laxman Rao (1), Rajat Sharma (1) and Gnanendrajit Ningobam (1) struck at frequent intervals.

For Manipur, Punachandra (2) and Priyokumar scored consolation goals.

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