Riding on Sandeep Michael's brace, defending champions Bangalore Lions beat Hyderabad Sultans 4-2 in their last league match to finish third in the Premier Hockey League in Chandigarh on Wednesday night.
The Lions may have failed to reach the final this time, but they finished with a tally of 20 points while the Sultans suffered their sixth straight defeat in the tournament and have just six points at the bottom of the table.
Playing under flood lights in cold conditions, both teams played an attacking game early on and Sandeep Michael gave Lions the lead in the fifth minute, scoring from a penalty-corner.
However, the Sultans were quick to respond, with Sharanjeet Singh restoring parity from a penalty-corner in the 13th minute of the first quarter and Pakistani import Tariq Aziz scoring a field goal in the 15th minute to put his team 2-1 up.
But the Lions fought their way back, scoring in the 26th minute, in the second quarter, when Hari Prasad scored a field goal.
Locked at 2-2 at half time, the Lions launched some attacks on the opposition and were awarded a penalty-stroke at the end of the third quarter.
Aiyappa found the post easily and gave his team a 3-2 lead in the 53rd minute.
With just fourth and last quarter remaining in the match, the Sultans tried to fight a losing battle. Sandeep Michael scored his second goal from the fifth penalty-corner in the 63rd minute, scoring off a rebound from the goalkeeper.
The crowds were missing in today's match, mainly due to the rainy weather, which forced the mercury to fall sharply.