Lahore - Phenomenal Juan Cruz Losada helped Newage/Master Paints snatch victory from the jaws of defeat as they beat spirited Ravi Auto by 8-7 in the Bank Alfalah National Open Polo for Quaid-e-Azam Gold Cup 2017 thrilling match played here at the Lahore Polo Club ground on Thursday.

The victory gave Newage/Master Paints a place in the main final of the prestigious tournament of the country, where they will take on Barry’s. Interestingly, Ravi Auto were winning the encounter by 7-5 in the fifth and last chukker, when high-flying Losada displayed fantabulous polo skills and thwarted three back-to-back goals in the dying moments to turn the tables of the match and guided his team to a well-deserving triumph. This magnificent and sterling performance not only made Losada the ultimate hero of the day, but also impressed the spectators, who kept on cheering for him and in the end, gave him a standing ovation.

From the winning side, Losada converted six out of eight goals successfully while the remaining two were scored by his teammate Hissam Ali Hyder. From the losing side, Guy Gibrat (4), Saqib Khan Khakwani (2), Raja Taimur Nadeem (1) were the key contributors.

Bang Bang Losada started the match with a field goal to give Newage/Master Paints 1-0 lead, which was soon leveled by Guy Gibrat. Losada once again showed his class to give his team 2-1 edge. Soon after the second chukker began, Gibrat’s field goal drew the blood at 2-2. Hissam then got a 60-yard penalty, which he successfully converted to provide Newage 3-2 lead, which couldn’t last long as Raja Taimur once equalized the score at 3-3.

The third chukker started with a field goal by Hissam which enhanced Newage lead to 4-3. Saqib then made his presence felt as he banged in two back-to-back goals, which proved good enough for Ravi Auto to enjoy 5-4 lead. The fourth chukker was evenly poised as one goal each was struck by both the teams, as for Newage, Losada was the goal scorer while Gibrat hit for Ravi Auto to make it 6-5.

In the fifth and last chukker, Gibrat’s impressive goal further improved Ravi Auto’s lead to 7-5, which put them on driving seat and it was being expected that they could now easily win this crucial encounter but Losada had other ideas, as he came from behind to score two back-to-back goals to level the score at 7-7 while in the last minute of the match, when it was everyone’s game, Losada converted a match-winning goal magnificently to steer his team to victory. Foreign umpires Howard George Smith and Timothy John Bown officiated the match as field umpires.

Talking to The Nation soon after the match, hero of the day Losada said: “The match was something which doesn’t happen very often. We were very close till the fourth chukker, which ended up losing by two (7-5), so I decided to go all gun blazing and succeeded in firing three goals one after another to win the important match and also the berth in the main final. Lady of luck was also on our side, and after such a victory, you can’t describe feelings in words.”

The second encounter of the day between Master Paints (Black) and Barry’s ended in a 7-7 draw. Both the teams displayed quality polo skills and after tough fight in all the five chukkers, they finished at 7-7 draw. From Master Paints, Ahmed Ali Tiwana struck three while Sufi M Haris and Andres Crispo thwarted two goals each. From Barry’s, Raja Samiullah and Hamza Mawaz Khan hammered three goals each and George Meyrick contributed one. Howard George Smith and Timothy John Bown supervised the match as field umpires.