Mumbai: Struggling Mumbai Magicians slumped to their 10th defeat in eleven games when they lost 0-1 to Uttar Pradesh Wizards in a must-win game of the Hockey India League at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium, here on Tuesday. Magicians, kept alive in the tournament by the rule that a loss by a margin of less than two goals would still earn a point, could not be rescued from elimination despite earning another point.
Wizards, thus, took the fourth remaining semifinal spot in the five-team tournament with their fourth win in 11 games for a tally of 27. The Wizards have one more game in hand against Delhi Waveriders and a win there will push them to third position in the league standings ahead of Punjab Warriors who have ended their round robin engagements with 29 points to their credit.
The Magicians have another game in hand, against Ranchi Rhinos on February 7, but with only 15 points in their kitty, including one they earned on Tuesday, they are already out of the semi final running. In the must-win game, Magicians showed intent only in the opening quarter before fading away against their determined set of rivals.
Wizards even wasted a penalty stroke awarded to them, but emerged on top on the back of a cleverly taken penalty corner goal by veteran Australian Luke Doerner in the second quarter. In a fast-paced first quarter with lot of midfield play, the Magicians forced a penalty corner in the very first minute but their drag-flick king Sandeep Singh was foiled when a defender deflected his shot for a long corner.
Then came a period when both the teams went on attack and counter-attack with their best chance to score coming late in the first quarter. A superb Magicians move initiated by the ebullient Satbir and Chinglensana Singh down the left side saw the return pass from the latter hit his teammate on the knee as he was waiting to deflect the ball in.