News • March 20, 2014
Tampines Earn First Victory in AFC Cup
Written by: Muhammad Yazid
Tampines Rovers earned their first win and points in their AFC Cup campaign this season as they comfortably defeated Pune FC 3-1 at Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday evening.
A brace from Miljan Mrdakovic and a stunner from Gonzalo Closa sealed all three points for the Stags, and pushed them above Pune to third place in Group H.
The away side was put in the driving seat in the 14th minute when Hyrulnizam Jumaat brought down Mirjan Pavlovic in the penalty area, and Rahamat Mustapha beautifully converted the resulting penalty.
Tampines responded well with an equaliser in the 36th minute through Mrdakovic.
The striker’s initial shot was palmed away by Amrinder, before the goalkeeper got penalised for receiving a backpass with his hands. Skipper Mustafic Fahrudin’s indirect free-kick from the six-yard box was blocked by the wall, but the former Singapore International followed up with a header at the far post for Mrdakovic to nod it home from close range.
The second half proved better for Salim Moin’s side as they took the lead in the 62nd minute courtesy of a superb strike from Closa.
The midfielder exquisitely placed his 25-yard shot into the top corner, giving Amrinder absolutely no chance.
The Stags wrapped up their victory seven minutes later through Mrdakovic who completed his brace with a top-class finish.
The number ten could not finish Jamil’s volley-cross from eight yards out, but his second effort found the target when the opposition defence failed to clear the ball to safety and the ball fell for Mrdakovic who controlled the ball before comfortably slotting it past Amrinder.
The star of the match could have earned a hat-trick minutes later after his shot from Jamil’s lay-off was parried away to safety.
Despite the two-goal gap, Pune tried to force a comeback.
A good build-up play involving a series of lobbed passes in the 79th minute saw Rahamat’s effort sailing over the crossbar.
The striker had another opportunity moments later but Hyrulnizam was equal to his task in keeping the shot out.
This impressive win has revived Tampines’ hopes of progressing to the next round, ajthough the Stags will have to maintain the same level of performance in the remaining fixtures in the group stage.