Singapore Premier League: Tampines stamp title credentials in thrilling 4-3 win
Stags edge Lion City Sailors for second straight win over title contenders, as they open up 4-point lead at top of the table
SINGAPORE — If there were any doubts that Tampines Rovers will be among the title contenders in this Singapore Premier League (SPL) season, they were dispelled when the Stags claimed their second consecutive win over a title-challenging team.
Following their 1-0 win over defending champions Albirex Niigata (Singapore) before the international break, Tampines notched another key victory, edging 2021 champions Lion City Sailors 4-3 in a thrilling match at Our Tampines Hub on Friday (31 March).
The Sailors had gone ahead in the eighth minute with a superb team goal, with imports Diego Lopes and Maxime Lestienne making pin-point passes to set up Shawal Anuar for an easy tap-in.
However, Tampines came roaring back, equalising in the 20th minute when Faris Ramli's cross from the right flank was spilled by Sailors goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad and Yasir Hanapi reacted quickest to score.
Ten minutes later, the hosts went in front, courtesy of a long-range piledriver from midfielder Kyoga Nakamura, who took a short pass from Shah Shahiran and a touch to set up his shot, before letting fly from almost 30 metres out into the top left corner.
Faris put Tampines up 3-1 in the 50th minute with his fifth goal of the season, the Singapore international firing in after being put through the Sailors defence by Joel Chew. However, the Sailors pulled a goal back six minutes later via a bizarre own goal by Glenn Kweh under no pressure from opponents.
However, Taufik Suparno restore the two-goal cushion in the 72nd minute, heading home from close range after fine work by substitute Ong Yu En from the right flank. The Sailors reduced the deficit deep into stoppage time through a well-struck goal by Manuel Herrera Lopez.
With this win, Tampines have five wins and a draw after six league match for 16 points, four ahead of Albirex - who have a game in hand - and the Sailors.
What was once thought to be a two-horse SPL title race between Albirex and the Sailors has now become a three-cornered fight, with Tampines blossoming under the stewardship of head coach Gavin Lee.
Albirex back to winning ways with 6-1 rout
Albirex rebounded from their defeat by Tampines with a 6-1 thumping of Geylang International at Our Tampines Hub on Saturday.
Veteran striker Tadanari Lee had put the White Swans ahead in the eighth minute, but Geylang equalised with a deflected goal by Yushi Yamaya in the 17th minute.
From then on, however, it was Albirex all the way as they battered Geylang with goals from Koki Kawachi (45th minute), Shuto Komaki (47th), Riku Fukashiro (55th), Keito Komatsu (57th) and Seia Kunori (74th) to seal the big win.
Brunei's DPMM FC notched their second victory of the season with a 3-0 win over slumping Hougang United at Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday.
Goals from Muhammad Hakeme Yazid (31st), Yura Indera Putera (48th) and Josip Balic (89th) condemned the reigning Singapore Cup champions to their fourth straight loss.
In the week's final match, Tanjong Pagar United edged out the Young Lions 2-1 at Jurong East Stadium on Saturday.
The Young Lions had captain Jacob Mahler sent off in the 23rd minute with a second bookable offence, and Tanjong Pagar took advantage when Syukri Bashir swept home from close range in the 39th minute.
The Jaguars also went down to 10 men when Tajeli Salamat was red-carded in the 48th minute for elbowing Kieran Teo, but Shakir Hamzah doubled their lead with an acrobatic volley five minutes later. The Young Lions pulled a goal back through Harhys Stewart in the 78th minute.
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