Pune: Air India scored their third straight win in Pool A league beating Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy 7-3 to storm into the semifinals of the 5th Hockey India Senior Men’s National Hockey championship for ‘A’ Division at the Balewadi Hockey Ground here on Monday.
Shivendra Singh and Arman Qureshi pumped into two goals apiece after Gaganpreet Singh had provided the opener in the fourth minute of the match.
The defending champions dominated most part of the match as former India player Shivendra Singh struck a brace in a space of five minutes to give Air India 3-0 lead.
The aberration came in the 23rd minute with Munis Qureshi struck a field goal for MP Hockey Academy, but for next two quarters it was Air India show all through.
Arman scored in the third quarter and then Mohan Muthanna (55th) and Vikram Pillay joined the binge to give Air India 7-1 lead. Complacency set in for a while with Air India when MP Hockey Academy fired two goals through Vikas Choudary but the fight-back was too late in the day.
Railways rally to beat Karnataka
Railways and Haryana registered contrasting wins in their respective Pool matches to score second win in as many matches. Both the teams are one win away from sealing their semifinal berths.
Up against a cheeky Karnataka side that gave little leeway to the celebrated Railways team, the going was tough in the first half before penalty corner expert Amit Rohidas came out all guns firing in a Pool D match.
Railways had taken the lead in the fourth minute through Talwinder Singh off a penalty corner. But Karnataka proved they were not easy opponents.
Sheshe Gowda BM and Thimanna PL scored in a space of two minutes to give Karnataka a rare lead against Railways. The two teams went for the break with Karnataka leading 2-1.
Soon after resumption, former India player Yuvraj Walmiki converted a penalty corner to bring Railways on level with Karnataka before Amit Rohidas struck his first of the three goals to give Railways slender 3-2 lead.
Aggressive play in either of the halves resulted in penalty corners being awarded at regular intervals. Kusha JP struck in the 48th minute to yet again bring Karnataka back into the match (3-3).
But Vinod Kumar Singh (50th and 54th) and Rohidas (55th and 56th) had other ideas as the duo took the game away from Karnataka.
In other Pool D match, Mumbai put Punjab out of contention by beating the former champions 1-0 in their first league match. For Punjab though it was second loss, first coming against Railways, and with only two matches remaining their chances of making it to the last four faded out.
Haryana beats UP
In what could decide the pPool topper, Haryana defeated Uttar Pradesh 4-2 to register their second win. Both the teams had gone into the match scoring a win each and this was potentially pool-deciding match.
Shivdeep scored early on for Haryana before Jitender Saroha made it 2-0 in the 27th minute for 2-0 half-time lead.
Mandeep Antil struck in the third quarter before Uttar Pradesh upped the ante and reduced the margin to 3-2 after Sunil Yadav (42nd) and Amir Khan (45th) scored back-to-back goals.
The match looked to get into exciting mode, but when Gagandeep Singh converted a penalty corner in the 52nd minute Haryana just fortified their defence allowing no attacks in the remaining time.
In the same pool, host Maharashtra did well to hold Services to a draw after having going down by one goal in the fourth minute of the match.
Services had taken the lead through Davinder Singh and much to the charge-in of the Services team, Maharashtra defence held firm to thwart any more goals.
Instead in the 42nd minute, captain Vishal Pillay struck the equalizer much to the relief of home fans.
Air India 7 (Gaganpreet Singh 4th, Shivendra Singh 10th, 15th, Arman Qureshi 41st, 44th, Mohan Muthanna 55th, Vikram Pillay 57th) beat Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy 3 (Munis Qureshi 23rd, Vikas Choudary 58th, 59th). HT: 3-1.
Sports Authority of India 2 (Tej Kiran Peta 23rd, Irshad Shaik 57th) beat Andhra Pradesh 0. HT: 1-0.
Haryana 4 (Shivdeep 2nd, Jitender Saroha 27th, Mandeep Antil 40th, Gagandeep Singh 52nd) beat Uttar Pradesh 2 (Sunil Yadav 42nd, Amir Khan 45th). HT: 2-0.
Maharashtra 1 (Vishal Pillay 42nd) drew with Services 1 (Davinder Singh 4th). HT: 0-1.
Railways 7 (Talwinder Singh 4th, Yuvraj Walmiki 35th, Amit Rohidas 41st, 55th, 56th, Vinod Kumar Singh 50th, 54th) beat Karnataka 3 (Sheshe Gowda BM 20th, Thimanna PL 22nd, Kusha JP 48th). HT: 1-2.
Mumbai 1 (Victo Singh 6th) beat Punjab 0. HT: 1-0.
Tuesday’s fixtures at National ‘A’ Hockey championship:
Pool B: Gangpur, Odisha v Jharkhand (7.30 am)
Pool B: Bhopal v CAG of India (9 am)
Pool C: Maharashtra v Haryana (10.30 am)
Pool C: Tamil Nadu v Uttar Pradesh (12.30 pm)
Pool D: Mumbai v Karnataka (2pm)
Pool D: FCI v Railways (3.30 pm)
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