Kalinga Lancers on Sunday defeated Dabang Mumbai 3-1 to clinch their maiden Hockey India League (HIL) title. The Lancers, who finished runners-up last season, went one better to clinch the 2017 edition crown.
Skipper Moritz Fuerste (30th, 58th) converted two penalty corners for the Lancers before Glenn Turner (18th minute) struck a field effort for the Odisha outfit, which lost the final last year to Jaypee Punjab Warriors.
For the first time finalist, Dabang Mumbai Affan Yousuf (33rd) scored the lone goal from a penalty corner variation. It was action-packed first quarter of the final in which both the Lancers and Dabang Mumbai created real scoring chances but both the teams failed to make them count.
In their first final of the HIL, it was Dabang Mumbai who were more assertive in the first quarter but they failed to get past an alert Andrew Charter in front of Lancers goal.
The Lancers finally broke the deadlock in the 18th minute through tournament’s highest scorer so far, Australian Glenn Turner, who found himself positioned to tap home a Mortuiz Fuerste pass from out side the D after it took a deflection from Lalit Upadhayay’s stick.
A minute later, Dabang Mumbai secured a penalty corner but Charter stood like a rock in front of the Lancers goal to deny Harmanpreet Singh.
Dabang Mumbai captain Florian Fuchs then came tentalisingly close when he sprinted into the opposition circle, beating a host of defenders but his diagonal shot from the right went inches wide off the target even as a diving Gurjant Singh far away failed to get his stick.
Dabang Mumbai’s Affan Yousuf then set it up with a brilliant run for Manpreet Jr but the latter failed to keep his balance and unleashed a weak shot which was easily kept away by in-form Charter.
To add to Dabang Mumbai’s woes, Aran Zalewski won a penalty corner for the Lancers just at the stroke of half time and skipper Moritz Fuerste made no mistake in sending his flick into the centre of the net past FIH’s Goalkeeper of the Year, Harte.
The high-intensity action continued in the third quarter with Dabang Mumbai showing more purpose.
Three minutes into the third quarter Kieran Govers’ secured a penalty corner for Dabang Mumbai and Affan Yousuf reduced the margin for his side with the help of a fine variation.