Sunday, February 23, 2014

Nicolas Jacobi emerges shootout hero as Delhi Waveriders pip Jaypee Punjab Warriors to clinch 2014 HIL

Delhi Waveriders had to endure the disappointment of finishing runners-up to Ranchi Rhinos in the 2013 Hero Hockey India League. But this time around the Greenshirts cornered glory at the same venue – Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Ranchi – but not before an intriguing battle of hockey in which they edged past Jaypee Punjab Warriors 3-1 in penalty shootout after both teams were locked 3-3 in regulation time.

Delhi Waveriders’ German goalkeeper Nicolas Jacobi was the hero of the shootout effecting as many as three saves as the Warriors could convert only one out of their four shots at goal as against the Waveriders’ three conversions.

The Punjab outfit got the shootout on a wrong note with the Aussie duo of Simon Orchard and captain Jamier Dwyer failing to find the target even as Matt Ghodes and Simon Child gave Delhi the early advantage.

The Warriors plunged into serious trouble when Satbir Singh also missed the target even Jaap Stockmann kept his side’s hopes alive halting the effort of Rajpal Singh. Rob Hammond was the only Punjab player to beat Nicolas Jacobi and soon Steven Edwards triggered celebrations among the Delhi supporters converting his shot to win the 2014 HIL.

Earlier, the match commence on a rousing note with Mark Knowles giving the Warriors an early lead slapping home a reverse flick from Affan Yousuf. Just when it appeared the Warriors would held on to their 1-0 lead at half-time, the Waverdiers mounted a superb fightback scoring twice in the dying moments to sit pretty at the break.

Akashdeep Singh essayed a superb run from the left and laid it to South Afrian Lloyd Norris Jones who slammed home with aplomb. Skipper Sardar Singh made it 2-1 off a penalty corner after Rupinder Pal Singh’s flick was blocked by the Warriors’ defence. Vastly experienced Shivendra Singh equalized for Punjab in the third quarter and the goal further pepped up their spirits as they made the scoreline 3-2 through Affan Yousuf, who tapped home a Kieren Govers cross from the right.

The third quarter witnessed high level of excitement as Yuvraj Walmiki made it 3-3 for Delhi with a rasping shot. Penalty shootout was applied after the two teams failed to break the logjam in the final quarter.

Earlier, Ranchi Rhinos gave their home crowd something to rejoice about as they sneaked past Uttar Pradesh Wizards 3-2 in a penalty shootout after being tied 1-1 in normal time.

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