Singapore Premier League • April 6, 2014
Cheetahs Inflict Stags’ First Defeat of Season
Written by: Kenneth Ho
Tampines Rovers crashed to their first defeat of the season in devastating style as Hougang United beat them 4-2 at Hougang Stadium on Saturday evening.
Geison Moura and Diego Gama scored a brace each for Hougang while Aleksandar Duric and Shahdan Sulaiman netted for the visitors.
Things had started promisingly for the reigning champions, when Luis Closa’s free kick shaved the crossbar in the sixth minute.
However, the Cheetahs proceeded to grab hold of the game by scoring three goals within five minutes after that.
Beating the offside trap, Moura simply lifted the ball over the goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Juma’at for Hougang to get the opener in the seventh minute.
Things then turned worse for the Stags minutes later when Moura got his second goal. Fazli Jaffar expertly picked out Durica Zuparic in the box and the defender’s flick on was nudged in by Moura.
Still reeling from that goal, Tampines were dealt a deadly blow just a minute later as Moura turned provider and set up Diego Gama for an easy header to set the Cheetahs on the ascendency.
Tampines pressed hard for a goal after that and they did get some good chances.
Aleksandar Duric could have reduced the deficit on the 17th minute when Closa slipped him through but the former Singaporean international’s rasping drive cracked the woodwork.
Jamil Ali too should have done better when he showed good pace to run from the halfway line into the box but his finish was way off the mark.
The 31-year-old also wasted another good opportunity just before the break when he evaded two defenders to get into the danger area but his blasted shot only found the side-netting.
In an attempt to invigorate his team, Tampines coach Salim Moin sent on Ismadi Muktar and Noh Alam Shah for Ang Zhi Wei and Miljan Mrdakovic after the interval.
The move paid off as the Stags finally made a breakthrough on the hour mark with Noh playing the ball to Duric, and allowed the striker to have an easy header into goal.
Despite that, Hougang refused to buckle and scored a brilliant fourth goal to extinguish any hopes the Stags had.
Gama received the ball from 40 yards out and took on the Tampines defence with a blitzing run. Evading past three defenders, the Brazilian slotted the ball home for his second goal.
Shahdan replied with a well-taken free kick from 20 yards out in the 78th minute, but it was too late for the visitors to make much out of it.
The Stags were also made to finish the game with ten men following an injury to Jamil. Tampines had already used up all its substitutions then, and were unable to replace the injured winger.