Sailors claims first SPL Title win, becoming first local club to win Singapore football's top flight since Warriors FC in 2014
Image via Lion City Sailors Facebook
Title rivals Albirex Niigata, who started the day level on points with the Sailors but with an inferior goal difference, were held to an entertaining 4-4 draw at Jurong East Stadium by a gritty Tanjong Pagar United side, having led 4-1 at the break.
Roller Coaster Ride
True to the nature of this season's Singapore Premier League title race, the day would take both sets of fans through a roller coaster of emotions, with the pendulum swinging one way then the other.
Having taken an early lead through Song Uiyong in the 8th minute, the Sailors found themselves pegged back by a speculative Aidil Johari effort on the edge of the Lion City Sailors area which found its way into the back of Hassan Sunny's net.
The story was quite the opposite at Jurong East Stadium, as Albirex Niigata trailed to an early Anaqi Ismit goal on 11 minutes, whose 45 yard dink found its way into goal past as stranded Koga.
From then on, it was the Kiyoshiro Tsuboi show as the striker went on to score 4 goals before half time to send the White Swans 4-1 up.
Back at Jalan Besar, Gabriel Quak settled a few nerves by putting the Sailors back in the driver's seat 5 minutes before the break, bundling home Aqhari Abdullah's teasing cross from the right at the second time of asking.
Jurong East Drama
There was more drama set to unfold in the second period, as Albirex Niigata's eagerness to go forward to score more goals to increase their goal difference left them exposed at the back, and Tanjong Pagar, who have proven to be the bogey team for last season's SPL champions shifted up a gear to punish them.
Fathullah Rahmat's spectacular strike from distance added to the Jaguars' growing list of goal-of-the-season nominations while reducing the arrears, before Tsuboi had a fifth goal for the White Swans overturned for an alleged infringement.
Over at Jalan Besar Stadium, half time news of Albirex's commanding 4-1 lead must have filtered through to the dressing rooms because the Sailors came out with a new sense of purpose and looked a different side to the first.
They had to wait till the 78th minute to add to their tally however, when a delightfully weighted cross to the far post by Faris Ramli was met by a diving Diego Lopes to all but seal the title for the Sailors.
The Sailors still had time for a fourth and Gabriel Quak's second, with Faris Ramli again the chief architect of the goal, teeing up Quak to tie the ribbon on the Sailors' trophy.
Image via AIA Singapore Premier League
Stunning Jaguars Comeback
Tanjong Pagar United completed a stunning comeback to level the game at 4-4 through further goals from Anaqi Ismit and Reo Nishiguchi to peg Albirex Niigata back for a share of the spoils.
In so doing, they underlined their status as the most improved SPL side in 2021, securing a mid table finish having started the season at rock bottom.
Other SPL 2021 Week 21 Results:
Hougang United 1-3 Young Lions
Tampines Rovers 1-1 Geylang International