S.League: Tampines stumble to first defeat

S.League: Tampines stumble to first defeat
Diego Gama (in orange) slots home the fourth goal, and his second of the night, in Hougang United's 4-2 victory over Tampines Rovers at the Hougang Stadium.

HOUGANG UNITED 4 (Geison Moura 7, 11, Diego Gama 12, 74), TAMPINES ROVERS 2 (Aleksandar Duric 60, Shahdan Sulaiman 80)

They conceded first before staging comebacks to win their previous two Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League matches.

But defending champions Tampines Rovers could not repeat their heroics last night at the Hougang Stadium, going down 4-2 in their first league defeat of the season.

Hougang's Brazilian forwards Diego Gama and Geison Moura put three goals past the Stags in the first 12 minutes.

Moura put the hosts ahead in the seventh minute, slotting the ball past Tampines custodian Hyrulnizam Juma'at after being put clean through.

He scored again four minutes later with a header, with Gama adding a third goal a minute later.

Tampines had at least three chances to pull a goal back in the first half, but were denied by the post and Hougang goalkeeper Nazri Sabri.

The visitors had better luck in the second half when Aleksandar Duric headed home in the 60th minute from substitute Noh Alam Shah's cross, while Shahdan Sulaiman converted a free-kick in the 80th minute.

But Gama scored his second goal of the night between the two Tampines goals, squeezing his way past three defenders to settle the result.

The Stags even played out the dying minutes with just 10 men after Jamil Ali limped out with a leg injury, with the team already out of substitutes.

Tampines coach Salim Moin said: "I am very disappointed with the result, but my players tried their best. We just came back from a very tough AFC Cup match against Pune (on Tuesday in India) and my players are very tired.

"It would have been a different story if we converted a few chances in the first half, but credit to Hougang, they took their chances well."

SURPRISED

Hougang coach Amin Nasir said: "I was surprised to be three goals up after 12 minutes, but we deserved it because we knew we were strong in the air and trained hard on that.

"We were concerned that they would come back strongly in the second half, but credit to all my players for the win."

The loss was Tampines' first after five straight wins, but Salim's men still lead Warriors FC by two points at the top of the table.

Salim said: "The loss is a good lesson for us, we can't stay unbeaten all the time, but I am hoping we can bounce back and get a good result against Kitchee (in the AFC Cup) next week."

TNP Man of the Match: Diego Gama

HOUGANG: Nazri Sabri, Wahyudi Wahid, Igor Cerina, Shunsuke Nakatake, Diego Gama, Geison Moura (Firman Hanif 90+1), Fazli Jaffar (Fairoz Hassan 89), Faizal Amir, Erwan Gunawan (Nurhilmi Jasni 62), Azhar Sairudin, Durica Zuparic

TAMPINES: Hyrulnizam Juma'at, Mustafic Fahrudin, Shahdan Sulaiman, Aleksandar Duric, Miljan Mrdakovic (Noh Alam Shah 46), Anaz Hadee, Norihiro Kawakami, Jamil Ali, Ang Zhi Wei (Ismadi Mukhtar 46), Luis Closa (Roberto Martinez 61), Abdil Qaiyyim.

sayheng@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 6 in The New Paper.

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