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Punjab Warriors pip UP Wizards

New Delhi, Feb 20: Defending champions Jaypee Punjab Warriors edged Uttar Pradesh Wizards 1-0 but couldn’t keep themselves in contention to reach the semi-fils of the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) at the Shivaji Stadium here on Monday.

Punjab needing a win and that too by atleast a three-goal margin to be contention but, apart from Dutchman Mink van der Weerden’s sixth pelty corner goal of the campaign, they couldn’t find any more goal, thereby bowing out before the semi-fils of the HIL for the first time.

Following the win, Punjab took their points tally to 22 but UP Wizards and Delhi Waveriders, with 23 points each, still have a game in hand to ensure their qualifications to the last four stage.

Top two placed teams Dabang Mumbai and Kalinga Lancers are already through to the semi-fils. UP Wizards (+9 goal difference) and Delhi (+10 goal difference) also are virtually through to the knockouts as the other team in contention, Ranchi Rays’ have a poor goal difference of -5. The 2015 champions have 18 points from nine games and they face Delhi on Tuesday. IANS

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Ankur Kalita