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National Hockey Championship: PIA crowned champions for 29th time

A brilliant performance by Shafqat Rasool helped PIA successfully defend their crown as they defeated Wapda 7-6 on penalties, after the match had ended 2-2 in normal time, in the final of the 62nd National Hockey Championship at the Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium in Karachi on Sunday.

Both teams started the match on the offensive but were unable to break through each other’s defence in the opening 31 minutes of the game. Rasool finally broke the deadlock with his strike just after the half-hour mark. The goal jolted the opposition attackers who, courtesy of Muhammad Jaffar, levelled the game just two minutes later.

PIA, who desperately sought the winner, started pressing Wapda’s defence and managed to get a penalty corner in the 45th minute, which Ehsanullah converted with confidence, to take a 2-1 lead  at the end of the third quarter.

The defending champions had seemingly done enough to guarantee a win but were handed a shock when in the 57th minute Umar Bhutta struck with a spectacular goal to equalise for his side and force the game into a penalty shootout, which PIA managed to win 7-6.