Jacobi ensures Delhi remain unbeaten
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It was billed as a top-of-the-table clash of the Hockey India League, a prelude to the final, some reckoned. For the Delhi Waveriders and the Ranchi Rhinos have been dominant enough to sometimes give the impression that the league is a two-horse race.
The last time these two teams met a week ago, Delhi had beaten Ranchi 5-4 in their own backyard. On the evidence of Wednesday's game, however, the Jharkhand team seemed to have not only bridged the gap, but have race ahead.
In fact, Ranchi scored all four goals at the National Stadium, unfortunately for Moritz Furste's side, two of those hits sounded their own board as they were held to a draw.
Playing on a consecutive night, Delhi was easily the second best in all departments. All but one: goalkeeping. For if Ranchi did not get all five points, it wasn't as much due to those twin own goals, but home team's German goalkeeper Nicolas Jacobi.
Bookended by Floris Evers twin goals — in the 13th minute and the 61st minute — was a singular performance under the bar by Jacobi that saw him stopping 11 goal-bound attempts. While almost all saves were spectacular, the highlight of the evening came in the 56th minute off Ranchi's first penalty corner.
Great Britain's Ashley Jackson has a reputation of having one the most powerful drag-flicks in the world. He struck this one nice and waist high to the goalkeeper's right, but Jacobi dropped his frame in the right direction. The ball rebounded back to Jackson who unleashed another cracking hit from the edge of circle, but Jacobi was back on his feet and parried the uppish shot.
At that stage Ranchi were, quite unbelievably, trailing 2-1. Delhi had pulled one back on the break in the 19th minute after a Lloyd Norris Jones's cross was deflected off Ranchi's Austin Smith's stick onto teammate Bosco Perez's legs and into the goal.