Radzi Nets Winner for Lions

Bangalore, Mar 22 (IANS): An opportunistic deflected goal by Malaysian Mohd Radzi three minutes from close gave Karnataka Lions a 3-2 win against Pune Strykers in the World Series Hockey league match here Wednesday.

The Lions, languishing at the bottom of the eight-team table, scored through Ravipal Singh (9th) and Len Aiyappa (12th) before Radzi notched the match-winner while for Strykers, Nikkin Thimmaiah (17th) and Bikash Toppo (29th) found the net.

In a rousing encounter, four of the five goals came in the first-half while the third quarter saw some quality goalkeeping that denied both the teams until Radzi came up with a neat deflection from just inside the circle after getting to a long hit from deep in the Karnataka defence.

The victory took Lions' tally to 12 points, the same as the Strykers after 10 matches while pushing Mumbai Marines (10) to the bottom of the heap while Sher-E-Punjab head the field with 22 points, followed by Chandigarh Comets (18), Chennai Cheetahs (16), Bhopal Badshahs (13) and Delhi Wizards (13).

The Lions forged ahead against the run of play when Ravipal Singh fastened on to a loose ball inside the rival 25-yard area, controlled the bounce and then fired a shot from just inside the circle with the entire Strykers defence slow to react to the danger.

Soon, Aiyappa flicked home a penalty corner to give the Lions a 2-0 advantage, but the full-back blotted his record when he failed to stop a cross from the right and Thimmaiah puhsed home to put Strykers on the board.

However, Aiyappa made up for the lapse when he intercepted a dangerous centre from the right after Spanish import Mario Almada orchestrated a lightning counter-attack that had goal written all over it.

Pune sustained the pressure in the second quarter and past the 30th minute, Toppo struck the equalizer when he pounced on a rebound from a penalty corner play to push home.

The third quarter witnessed some end-to-end play with both teams more intent on forcing penalty corners. The heated exchanges led to some body play resulting in a series of yellow cards as the umpires kept the proceedings under control.

With time ticking by, the Lions, desperate for a win, eventually struck the match-winner when Radzi got a touch to a long hit with about three minutes left for the final hooter.


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