S.League leaders Tampines Rovers produced a stunning late fightback to maintain their perfect start to the 2014 season with a 3-2 win over Harimau Muda on Thursday.
Following a goalless first half at the Clementi Stadium, it was the visitors who took the lead in the 66th minute when Akhir Bahari netted his second goal of the game; firing away a shot that deflected off Ismadi Mukhtar and rolled past a wrong-footed Hyrulnizam Juma’at.
Seven minutes later, it was 2-0 after Nurshamil Abdul Ghani latched on Akhir’ neat pass and fired into the back of the net, putting Harimau Muda on course to claim their first points of the season.
But in the 85th minute, the Stags pulled one back after Noh Alam Shah, having come on for just three minutes, fired a low shot past Ilham Amirullah to keep his side’ hopes alive.
As the clock ticked over into injury-time, Tampines pulled level as Alam Shah provided another telling contribution; his header forcing Ilham to parry the ball straight to Roberto Martinez, who made no mistake in tapping home the rebound.
And deep into added time, the miraculous comeback was complete after Miljan Mrdakovic met Aleksandar Duric’s cross and headed home his ninth goal in eight games to hand his side all three points.
The result was enough to see the defending champions move six points clear at the top of the table, although second-placed DPMM FC could close in on Friday with a win at Geylang International.
In Thursday’s other game, ten-man Home United came from behind twice to force a 2-2 draw against high-flying Hougang United at the Bishan Stadium.
The Protectors were dealt a real blow three minutes after halftime when playmaker Lee Kwan-woo was handed his marching orders, after being shown a second yellow for taking a freekick before the referee had blown.
And Hougang capitalised on their numerical advantage in the 52nd minute when Geison Moura broke the deadlock by netting on the rebound, after his initial effort had been saved by Shahril Jantan.
However, nine minutes after the hour mark, Home were gifted an equaliser when opposition keeper Nazri Sabri’s attempted clearance deflected off Firman Hanif and fell kindly to Bruno Castanheira, who was left with a simple finish into the unguarded net.
Nonetheless, the Cheetahs looked to have claimed all three points in the 89th minute when Nurhilmi Jasni, racing onto Azhar Sairudin’s incisive pass, played in a cross for Diego Gama to fire home.
Remarkably, it took the hosts less than a minute to hit back as Fazrul Nawaz netted his third goal in two games by finishing off Qiu Li’s cross, to earn his side a share of the spoils.
Thursday’s S.League Results
Home United 2-2 Hougang United
Tampines Rovers 3-2 Harimau Muda