KARACHI - A classical hat-trick from international Umar Bhutta could not save NBP from defeat at the hand of a superbly fit Pakistan Army which won the crucial contest 4-3 in the 59th national hockey championship here Saturday at the Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium.

Umar Bhutta scored in 9th, 32nd and 44th minute to record a deserving three in row which helped bankers lead 2-1 at half time. But the bankers could not withstand the fierce onslaught from the fitter opponents who not only erased the deficit but scored the match winning goal with ten minutes to go for the final hooter when M Imran converted PC in 60th minute.

Habib Ur Rehman (23rd minute), M Kashif (PC 40th minute), and M Imran PC goals in 52nd and 60th minutes) scored for the soldiers.

The victory has lifted Pakistan Army to second spot on the points table a point behind the table leader PIA with 18 points.

With two more matches to go in the league round of the ten team championship, it looked that Army along with PIA have already assured a place in the semi finals.

Other two semi-final spots would be hotly contested between Wapda, NBP an SSGC.

In other matches of the day, Navy beat HBL by slenderest 1-0 margin with M Sabir scoring in 15th minute.

PIA kept in contention for the semi final place with 5-2 win over PAF. Skipper M Zubair scored in 10th minute, Kashif Ali doubled that advantage in 15th minute through PC. Muzammil Bhatti made it 3-0 in 53rd minute. Yasir Islam got one in 61st minute and Shafqat Rasool completed the score line in 67th minute. Airmen scored through Anees 33rd minute and Zeeshan (Capt) 60th minute. 

In the fourth match of the day, SSGC beat Port Qasim 4-1 after changing ends with 3-0 advantage.  Shakeel Abbasi 10th minute Shabbir Ahmed Khan 21st minute, Zeeshan Bukhari 31st minute and Arslan Haider 58th minute netted for the Gas utility. Ali Azlan scored for the Port team late in the second half. Sunday is rest day.  Tomorrow’s fixtures: HBL vs Port Qasim, SSGC vs PHF Academy, Wapda vs Army, PIA vs NBP.