Singapore Premier League: Draw between Sailors, Tampines means Albirex retake lead

Pulsating 1-1 draw at Bishan means defending champions take over the top of the table after 3-0 victory over Geylang

Tampines Rovers' Faris Ramli (front) is being congratulated by his teammates after scoring against Lion City Sailors in the Singapore Premier League. (PHOTO: SPL)
Tampines Rovers' Faris Ramli (front) is being congratulated by his teammates after scoring against Lion City Sailors in the Singapore Premier League. (PHOTO: SPL)

SINGAPORE — It was a result that benefitted neither of the two teams, as the 1-1 draw between Lion City Sailors and Tampines Rovers on Wednesday (7 June) meant that Albirex Niigata (Singapore) regained top spot in the Singapore Premier League (SPL).

Billed as a key clash between two title challengers midway through the season, the pulsating match at Bishan Stadium lived up to the hype, with chances galore and a sending-off of Tampines captain Yasir Hanapi following a reckless tackle on Sailors defender Manuel Lopez.

Veteran Faris Ramli opened the scoring for Tampines in the 58th minute with a superb effort. Eluding the challenges from two Sailors defenders, he cut in from the left flank before launching an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box into the top right corner of the net.

Yasir's expulsion five minutes later meant the league leaders were on the back foot, as the Sailors searched for an equaliser. Their Belgian star Maxime Lestienne must had thought he had done so in the 67th minute, but Tampines defender Shuya Yamashita somehow managed to head the ball away from the goal-line.

Lestienne would not be denied though, after Faris barged him down in the penalty area in the 80th minute, and the referee finally awarded the spot-kick after a VAR check. The Belgian made no mistake with his penalty attempt.

The draw - coupled with Albirex's 3-0 win over Geylang International on Tuesday - meant that Tampines drop to second spot, behind the defending champions on goal difference but having played one more game. The Sailors remain in third spot with 27 points, three points behind Albirex and Tampines.

Easy win for 10-men Albirex against Geylang

Albirex notched their second win on the trot comfortably against Geylang at Jurong East Stadium, even though they were reduced to 10 men following defender Koki Kawachi for a second bookable offence.

Midfielder Shuto Komaki opened the scoring in the 21st minute with a simple tap-in from close range, as Albirex withstood Geylang's comeback attempt with a couple of superb saves by Singapore international Hassan Sunny.

Forward Seia Kunori duly extended their lead with another close-range tap-in in the 56th minute, before substitute Keito Komatsu completed the scoreline with a fine run in the 80th minute.

Elsewhere, Hougang United continued their recent revival after a poor start to the season, notching their fourth win in a row with a 3-2 victory over Brunei's DPMM FC at Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday.

Singapore international forward Amy Recha was the toast of the Cheetahs with a superb hat-trick (33rd, 40th and 53rd minutes), before DPMM scored late consolation goals through Hakeme Yazid (84th, 90th).

Hougang stayed in sixth spot, but have drawn level on points with fifth-placed Geylang and are only two points behind fourth-placed Balestier Khalsa.

On Tuesday at Jalan Besar Stadium, Tanjong Pagar United inflicted a fourth straight defeat to bottom-placed Young Lions, coming from 1-3 down to eventually win 4-3.

Elijah Lim (27th) and Jared Gallagher (29th) gave the Young Lions an early advantage, and while Blake Ricciuto reduced the deficit in the 33rd minute, Lim pounced again in the 39th minute to restore the hosts' two-goal advantage. However, Tanjong Pagar roared to life in the second half, and took the win with goals from Jun Kobayashi (55th, own goal), Faizal Roslan (71st) and Shakir Hamzah (89th).

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