New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) Skipper Florian Fuchs last-minute goal helped table-toppers Dabang Mumbai edge past Delhi Waveriders 3-2 in the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) at the Shivaji Stadium here on Wednesday.
German striker Fuchs’ deflection from point-blank angle gave the visitors 3-2 win after Mandeep Singh’s 44th-minute field goal had given the hosts the lead after the visitors were put ahead by a penalty corner conversion from Kieran Govers in the 24th minute.
Mumbai, having already qualified to the semi-finals for the first time, got a win that will go a long way in sealing the top spot at the end of the league phase.
Delhi, who are yet to enter the semi-finals, squandered as many as seven penalty corners. They are fifth with 16 points.
Both teams, coming into the match with a two-match winning streak, started the proceeding on a good note by putting pressure on each other. Delhi, who were eyeing their third consecutive victory in their home turf got the first chance to take the vital lead through penalty corner.
Skipper and star drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh, however, missed the opportunity as he flicked the fall straight at custodian David Harte, who avoided the trouble.
The attacking game from Delhi saw one more chance to take a 1-0 lead. But Santa Singh missed the chance as his shot went wide from the goalmouth.
The visitors were almost successful in the dying minutes of the first quarter, however, Delhi’s defence stood firm to deny the chance.
The second quarter saw some dramatic action, with Delhi pushing hard for a goal but goalkeeper Harte saved two important attempts one from Manuel Brunet stick and the second from Talwinder Singh.
Soon, Mumbai, who were displaying some good hockey, started counter-attacking and in the process they were rewarded with a penalty corner.
In the 24th minute, Australian drag-flicker Govers’ flick hit rusher Santa Singh before entering the the right corner to take the crucial 1-0 lead.
After conceding a goal, Delhi, who were given two green cards, pulled up their socks and started playing in Mumbai’s half. As a result, they were given three penalty corners but failed to convert any of them.
Playing with nine players, Delhi failed to match up the pace with the table toppers and the half-time saw Mumbai leading with one goal to nil.
Harte was kept busy through the third quarter as well with Delhi making forays into the circle.
The Third quarter proved to be lucky for the home team as Mandeep’s brilliant field goal helped Delhi to take 2-1 lead. In the 44th minute, Mandeep slammed a reverse hit and found the back of the net to give his team a much needed 2-1 advantage.
Continuing their attack, Delhi got two more chance to seal the match through penalty corner but skipper Rupinder, who was struggling to find his rhythm, once again disappointed.
The last 10 minute of the match saw Mumbai battling it out to regain their lead and they got it with just 25 seconds to go as as an unmarked Fuchs deflected in a long ball from Harmanpreet Singh at the left post to make it 3-2.