Tampines Rovers were unable to celebrate a third straight Great Eastern-YEO’s S.League title with a win after they were beaten 2-0 at Home United.
(HOM: Lee Kwan-woo 70′, 90+4′)
Reporting from the Bishan Stadium
Just 24 hours earlier, the Stags had been crowned champions of 2013 without kicking a ball after Albirex Niigata (S), the only side that still had a chance of catching them, had their title hopes ended with a 2-1 loss to Balestier Khalsa.
However, Tampines were unable to cap that off with a positive result at the Bishan Stadium on Monday evening after they were beaten by the Protectors, courtesy of a second-half brace from Lee Kwan-woo.
To add insult to injury, the visitors also ended the game with ten men after Seiji Kaneko was sent off in injury-time after a last-man foul on Jordan Webb, which led to Lee’s second from the penalty spot.
The result also sent Home second on the table and although they will now have to wait another year to win the S.League, 2013 could still turn out to be a fairly successful year for them given they remain in the running for the RHB Singapore Cup.
And they certainly started the game looking a side full of intent, really threatening for the first time in the 19th minute when Juma’at Jantan charged forward and unleashed a fierce drive from 30 yards, drawing a good save from Andre Martins.
Four minutes later, the Portuguese keeper produced another smart stop to deny Masrezwan Masturi from point-blank range, after the veteran had been picked out inside the area by Webb.
The Protectors then created another chance two minutes before the half-hour mark after a lovely bit of play between Hafiz Rahim and Jordan Webb saw them exchange a series of passes, taking the ball from their own half to the opposition area.
It was Webb who broke into the box and confronted Martins before laying it back to the waiting Hafiz, but he could only blaze over with plenty of the goal to aim for.
Tampines were struggling to create anything of note in the attacking third but Shahdan Sulaiman did have a good effort in the 37th minute when he curled a shot just over the top corner, but Martins had to make another smart save to deny Masrezwan in another one-on-one situation a minute later and keep the scores level.
Having been dominated for much of the opening 45, the visitors did do well to step up a gear after the break and carved out an opening in the 48th minute when Fahrudin Mustafic’s incisive pass was cleverly flicked by Khairul Amri into the path of Aleksandar Duric, but he could only fire his shot wide of the far post.
Four minutes later, they had another chance when Jamil Ali went on a lovely run through to middle past two men before picking out Amri, only for the Singapore international’s firm drive to be parried by Shahril Jantan.
But despite their improvement, it was Home who still looked the likelier of the two teams to find the breakthrough, which they duly achieved in the 70th minute thanks to a moment of brilliance from Lee.
Lining up a freekick 30 yards out after Webb had been tripped by Shaiful Esah, the ex-Korea Republic international proceeded to unleash a stunning drive that sailed straight into the top corner, leaving Martins with no chance at all.
Seven minutes from time, the hosts had a good opportunity to kill off the contest when Hafiz played a lovely little flick between two defenders for Juma’at to race onto, but his low strike from a tight angle was kept out once again by Martins.
But in the third minute of injury-time, the killer blow eventually arrived after Webb broke through the opposition defence before being hauled down inside the area by Kaneko, who received a straight red for his offence.
Up stepped Lee, who made no mistake in sending Martins the wrong way and firing his spot-kick into the bottom corner, sealing an excellent display from Home.
Home United: Shahril Jantan, Ismail Yunos, Noh Rahman (Lee Kwan-woo 46’), Kwon Da-kyung, Juma’at Jantan, Sofiyan Abdul Hamid (Sevki Sha’ban 54’), Hafiz Rahim, Song Ui-young, Firdaus Idros, Jordan Webb, Masrezwan Masturi (Nor Azli Yusoff 62’).
Tampines Rovers: Andre Martins, Jufri Taha, Kunihiro Yamashita, Seiji Kaneko, Shaiful Esah, Fahrudin Mustafic (Firdaus Kasman 61’), Imran Sahib (Diogo Caramelo 78’), Shahdan Sulaiman, Jamil Ali, Khairul Amri (Vitor Ladeiras 64’), Aleksandar Duric.