Defending champions Punjab stunned Hockey Odisha 6-2 to retain the title on the concluding day of the 4th Hockey India Junior Men National Championship (Division A) played in Chennai on Sunday.
Punjab began the match on a rousing note, with Harjeet Singh scoring their first goal in the very first minute of the match.
The holders followed it up with two more field goals in the ninth and 14th minutes, coming through Simranjeet Singh and Baljinder Singh, respectively.
In return, Hockey Odisha were successful in reducing the goal margin to 1-3 through Sunil Ekka’s 30th-minute strike just before the half-time.
The second half of the match saw a similar result as Punjab netted three more goals with the help of Parvinder Singh, Ajit Pandit and Simranjeet Singh in the 57th, 59th and 67th minute, respectively, whereas Hockey Odisha managed only one more goal in the 44th minute through Joseph Toppo to lock the final scores at 6-2.
In the match for the third position, Haryana defeated Sports Authority of India (SAI) 7-3. Against the general run of play, the SAI outfit was the first to open their account when Ajit Kumar Pandey successfully converted a penalty corner in the 17th minute. The team increased the lead to 2-0 in the 26th minute when Navdeep Singh scored through another penalty corner.
But just before the half-time break, Haryana showed first signs of a comeback when Mandeep More scored off a penalty corner in the 31st minute. Going into the break, SAI were leading the game 2-1.
In the second half, the SAI were cruising smoothly, with Pawan Rajbhar scoring their third goal in the 38th minute through field efforts.
From here, Haryana turned the tables and went on a complete attack hereon.
They scored their second goal in the 44th minute through Mandeep More, while Sahil Debas scored the equaliser in the 47th minute. Thereafter, Haryana added another four goals to help the team claim the third spot.
In the prize distribution ceremony, Punjab’s Harjeet Singh and Jugraj were named player of the tournament and best goalkeeper, respectively.
The others who got awards for their fine individual performances were: Nilam Sanjeev Xess- Odisha ( best deep defender); Sumit-Haryana (best midfielder); Joseph Toppo Odisha (best forward).