Kalinga Lancers eked out a close 6-5 win over Jaypee Punjab Warriors, their first-ever victory against the defending champions, to jump to the top of the standings in the fifth edition of the Hockey India League, in Bhubaneswar, on Friday.
German stalwart Moritz Fuerste struck twice (18th and 28th minutes) while Glenn Turner (11th) and SK Uthappa (32nd) also found the net to ensure the home team bagged five points from the match, despite a late surge by the visitors.
The encounter between Kalinga Lancers and defending Champions Punjab Warriors brought back memories from last year's HIL when the two top teams met in the final and this time Kalinga Lancers avenged their loss.
Playing in front of an enthusiastic and loud Bhubaneswar crowd, there was was no doubt this game was of high stakes for the hosts and they did not disappoint.
The final quarter saw some tense moments with Punjab Warriors making desperate attempt to come back into the game.
Despite the home team's defenders doing their best to keep the lead, Punjab Warriors won a penalty corner in the 52nd minute and Mink Wan Der Weerden converted this time, closing their goal difference to 4-6.
SV Sunil won the visitors yet another penalty corner in the dying minutes of the match and a stunning variation attempt for a field goal was successfully converted by Arman Qureshi in the 57th minute but the goal counted for just one instead of two as it was trapped by Robert Van Der Horst inside the five-meter circle.
Ranchi Rays will play Uttar Pradesh Wizards in Ranchi on Saturday.