Banglore edge out Orissa to enter into finals

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Chandigarh, Jan 5 (UNI) Former champions Bangalore Hi-Fliers rallied brilliantly through a Len Aiyappa brace to overcome a 0-2 lead in the regulation time and defeated defending champions 5-4 via penalty shoot-out to set-up the title-clash with Chandigarh Dynamos in the Premier Hockey League here today.

After being tied 2-2 in the regulation time both the teams failed to score in the extra-time for silver goal and went into the tie-breaker.

Prabodh Tirkey and Roshan Minz were successful scorers for Orissa while Damandeep, Kim Chul and William Xalxo failed to score.

For Bangalore, Tushar Khandekar and Sebastian missed the first two strokes while Arjun Halappa, Vikramkanth and Sandeep Michael found the target to take the team to the final.

Earlier in the regulation time, Orissa took an early lead in the 11th minute forcing their first short corner.

Birendra Lakra took the push and Ajitesh Rai set it up for Dilip Tirkey. However, Dilip's direct hit deflected off the stick of a defender and was rolling wide when Sunil Ekka dived and directed the ball into the cage to hoist the lead.

Within five minutes, Sunil Ekka scored his second goal to increase the lead for Orissa.

In the 16th minute, he went on a solo run in the middle and dodged two defenders before he entered the circle from the right. He then turned around and sent a stinging reverse hit which had no answer from the rival goalkeeper Bharat Chetri.

Daunted by the reverse, Bangalore Hi-Fliers continued its raids and earned their first short corner in the 23rd minute.

Tushar Khandekar's injection saw Vikramkanth set it up perfectly for Len Aiyappa and the Coorgi struck the boards with a fierce flick to the right of goalkeeper Diederik.

Thereafter, Bangalore tried hard to get the equalizer but Orissa held on stubbornly in the defence.

Towards the end with only eight minutes to go for the hooter, Bangalore earned their third penalty corner. Len Aiyappa, who failed with the second short corner, sent the ball into the roof of the net to push the match into extra-time.

Extra time saw intense battle between both the teams and Hi-Fliers earned two short corners too, but neither team scored and the match went into penalty shoot-out.

Bangalore Hi-Fliers' custodian Bharat Chetri was declared man of the match.

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