Dubai: A last-minute goal by Mateo Lalor Bengolea earned hosts Ghantoot a thrilling 7-6.5 victory over Abu Dhabi in the 19th Emirates Open Polo Championships at the Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club on Thursday.
The two-goal handicapper from Argentina struck in the seventh minute of an absorbing game that ensured Ghantoot remain unbeaten with two wins while Abu Dhabi suffered their second loss in three matches.
Meanwhile AM Habtoor continued their fine form with a comfortable 7.5-5 victory over a luckless Desert Palm, who have now lost all their matches in the five-team tournament.
Mahra/Bangash and Ghantoot face-off on Sunday in a match that has the potential to bring the house down. Both teams will be looking to secure their qualifying spot in the finals.
In another do-or-die game, Abu Dhabi they take on AM Habtoor.
The Ghantoot vs Abu Dhabi game on Thursday was an absolute thriller with the advantage swinging like a pendulum all through the 28 minutes of high action.
Manuel Toccalino became the top scorer of the tournament with 14 goals when he played another standout match for Ghantoot, getting six of the team’s seven goals against Abu Dhabi.
Bengolea could not have chosen a better place or time to make his presence felt when he scored the winning goal on the death to deny Abu Dhabi a much needed victory.
The losers were well served by Sergio Damian Quiroga with three goals, while Martin Donovan weighed in with two strikes and team captain Faris Al Yabhouni with one.
“We were very unlucky,” said Al Yabhouni. “We did our best. Unfortunately it was not good enough. But that’s the nature of sport. You win some, you lose some.
“All credit to the team, they played a big match. It’s going to be difficult but we’ll continue to try to play our best polo. Well done to Ghantoot.”
The Emirates Open Polo is a high-profile event that boasts a total cash prize of $100,000 with the winning team collecting $60,00 and the runners-up $40,000.