Mumbai, Jan 21: Dabang Mumbai bridged a two-goal deficit by scoring a splendid field goal in the dying moments to hold two-time champions Ranchi Rays 3-3 in the opening game of the 5th Hockey India League, here today, January 21.
India international Nikkin Thimmiah scored the timely effort, in an indirect way off the hosts' fifth and last penalty-corner award which became a field effort and counted as two to help Mumbai storm back from 1-3 to 3-3 at the MHAL Stadium.
The other goals for the hosts was scored by Harmanpreet Singh, off a penalty corner, while Ranchi got their goals from Simranjeet Singh, a brilliant field effort that broke the goal drought in the match and Germany's Christopher Ruhr, who converted a penalty stroke.
After the teams remained goalless in the first two quarters, although Ranchi had a slight upper hand in the matter of coming close to score, the visitors took the lead with a fine field goal by Simranjeet Singh.
A red-hot reverse-hit from Ruhr, who had a splendid game, was back-handed into the goal to the right of Mumbai custodian David Harte by Simranjeet.
Since it was a field goal it counted as two as per the rules of the league so that Ranchi led 2-0 after the 31st minute of play.
Stung by the reverse, Mumbai fought back and earned their first penalty corner of the match and made it count too with Harmanpreet Singh making no mistake with his drag-flicked essay that beat Lovell Tyler under the Ranchi bar.
The goal reduced the margin to 2-1 in favour of the visitors. But two-time champions Ranchi applied immediate pressure at the other end, secured their second penalty corner of the match that led to the penalty-stroke as Sumit Kumar's deflection was stopped with his foot by a Mumbai defender as it was rolling in.
The resultant 'stroke' was converted by Ruhr to make it 3-1 for Ranchi. With just 15 minutes left on the clock the home team pressed hard from the start of the fourth quarter to bridge the two-goal gap and could have done so too but for Ranchi goalie Tyler coming to his side's rescue and block two penalty corner essays and foil Harmanpreet and Robbert Kemperman.
At the other end, the impressive Ruhr muffed a gilt-edged chance to score a field goal and seal the match in his side's favour as he hit wide of the post with an open goal beckoning him, of a square pass from Trent Mitton.
It was a costly miss as Mumbai scored a field goal in the dying moments through Nikkin Thimmiah who took advantage of a rebound from the rival goalie's pads following the penalty corner hit and pushed the ball in with his reverse stick after a dive.