Punjab beat Jharkhand to win men''s hockey gold

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Ranchi, Feb 25 (PTI) Punjab defeated Jharkhand 2-0 in ascintillating men''s hockey final in the 34th National Games atthe Astroturf here today.

After surviving a flurry of attacks from the hosts, RaviPal and Sarvanjit Singh struck in the 55th and 64th minutesagainst the run of the play to give Punjab the gold medal,much to the disappointment of a capacity crowd.

Ravi Pal latched on a ball deflected from Jharkhandgoalkeeper Dinesh Ekka following a penalty corner hit, andflicked into the post from the left side to put Punjab inlead.

Nine minutes later, Sarvanjit got all the time in theworld to reverse flick one into the net to consolidatePunjab''s position.

Jharkhand came close to scoring in the 59th minute whenMathias Minz gave a cross to Inocent Kullu, but the latterfailed to make contact.

The match began on a pacy note with the ball switchingends with breathtaking regularity as Punjab defence survivedsome harrowing time from Jharkhand forwards.

The Lakra brothers -- captain Bimal and Birendra (jr) --and Kullu kept the Punjab defenders busy.

In the 33rd minute, Bikas Toppo spectacularly moved intothe rival defence hoodwinking two players before a defenderwarded off the goal-bound move.

A minute later, the home team came very close to take thelead when Kullu played a centre, but a well positioned BikashToppo failed to connect.

Punjab also had their chances in the first half whenforward Dharambir Singh moved through Jharkhand defence, buthe shot straight on to the pads of goalkeeper Dinesh Ekka, whohad also saved Akashdeep Singh''s blistering goal-bound shot.

Chief minister Arjun Munda gave away the gold and silvermedals to both the men''s and women''s hockey finalists.

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