Bhubaneswar: Russia came from behind to score two goals in the final three minutes to clinch a 3-2 victory against Poland in their final Pool A encounter of the FIH Men’s Series Finals here Sunday at the Kalinga Stadium.
With this win, Russia finished second in the pool with six points from three games while Poland were third with three points in as many matches. Both the teams will play the cross-overs June 12, with India still left a game to play against Uzbekistan Monday.
Poland’ Mateusz Hulboj (28th) cancelled Pavel Golubev’s 17th minute opener before Pawel Bratkowski gave Poles the lead in the 45th minute. However, it was Semen Matkovskiy and Golubev who scored in the final three minutes to give Russians the victory.
Inspired by their huge 12-1, win against the Uzbeks in their previous match, the Russians made a dominating start with repeated circle entries – eight in total — compared to Poland’s none who mostly played defensive with occasional counter-attacks. The Russians however, lacked finish, causing a headache for head coach Vladimir Konkin.
The 22nd-ranked Russia earned two penalty corners in the sixth and the 12th minutes but Iaroslav Loginov wasted both the opportunities. Thereafter the Russians created couple of chances but credit should also go to the Polish goalie Maciej Pacanowski, who did great work under the bar to avert any danger in the first quarter.
The deadlock was finally broken in the opening minute of the second quarter through a Golubev field goal. Fed by Evgeny Artemov down the centre, the 29-year-old made no mistake in slotting home. The Poles could have levelled the score in the 26th minute had Michal Poltaszewski’s penalty corner not been saved by Marat Gafarov.
However, they didn’t have to wait for long as Hulboj’s solo effort brought the scoreline to parity. Receiving a pass from Jacek Kurowski in the centre, Hulboj darted straight to chip over an onrushing Gafarov to help his side go into half time with a 1-1 scoreline.
The third quarter was quite a dull affair with both the teams wasting opportunities. However, Poland took the lead through a penalty stroke after Matkovskiy fouled Hubloj on 45 minutes. Bratkowski made no mistake.
The twist in the game came in the final three minutes. Matkovskiy, who created a record in their last game against Uzbekistan scoring five goals, equalised from a penalty corner on 57th before Golubev scored the winner of a rebound in the penultimate minute to clinch the game.