SPL 2022: Hougang United 3-3 Tanjong Pagar United

Late Pedro Bortoluzo strike saves Hougang’s blushes but both sides lose ground on AFC Cup qualification

PHOTO: AIA SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE


Singapore, 4 September 2022 - Hougang United rescued a late point at home to Tanjong Pagar United after Pedro Bortoluzo’s late header ensured both sides shared the spoils on Saturday evening.


The Cheetahs started the match on the front foot, but quickly found themselves trailing 3-1 following defensive errors after losing defensive stalwart Lionel Tan to a nasty concussion injury in the opening minutes.


A resilient display saw the home side rally to pull one back before half-time, before Bortoluzo’s header secured a crucial point between both sides placed fifth and sixth in the league.


Tanjong Pagar failed to usurp Geylang International who stayed ahead in fourth spot on goal difference with a game in hand. Both teams trail third-place Tampines Rovers, who demolished Young Lions 7-0 in the concurrent fixture, by seven points.


Coach Clement Teo’s side continue to languish in sixth position and trail Tampines Rovers by eight points.



The third-best league finisher is guaranteed an AFC Cup qualification spot and the eventual fourth-placed team could potentially enter the AFC Cup if either of the final top three league teams win the Singapore Cup.


Hougang were set-up in a 4-2-3-1 shape, with Kristijian Krajcek used alongside Fabian Kwok in a midfield pivot, whilst Tanjong Pagar utilised their usual 3-5-2 system playing Rusyaidi Salime and Aqhari Abdullah as wing-backs and 44-year-old veteran defender Daniel Bennett amongst a three-man defence.


From the whistle, the home side instantly put pressure on Jaguars goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad’s goal with a flurry of chances.


The promising start was marred by a head injury to central defender Lionel Tan – Hougang had already lacked depth in that area – who had to be stretchered off the pitch. On came Afiq Noor to play in the midfield pivot and captain Fabian Kwok consequentially dropped into defence.


On the eighth minute mark, Hougang eventually capitalised on their fast start. A loose ball in the penalty box was deftly lofted over Zharfan Rohaizad by winger Shawal Anuar for his ninth goal of the campaign.

PHOTO: AIA SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE


The Cheetahs had the ball in the back of the net once more just five minutes later, but Amy Recha’s fine strike was incorrectly ruled out for offside much to the chagrin of head coach Clement Teo; showing his displeasure by kicking the substitutes’ bench.


The misjudged offside call would prove to be a game changing moment.


Surviving a tough opening spell, Tanjong Pagar restored parity in the 24th minute. Set-piece specialist Raihan Rahman’s looping free-kick was met by an unmarked Daniel Bennett, who powered home an unstoppable header from close range to level the scores.


Four minutes later, the Jaguars took the lead with two goals in quick succession. Defender Faritz Hameed’s cross bobbled along the penalty box, allowing forward Shodai Nishikawa to tap into the net at the far post.


Then, Nishikawa stole the ball from the restart and won himself a penalty after being brought down by Fabian Kwok. Tanjong Pagar’s talisman Reo Nishiguchi made no mistake from the spot and all of the sudden, at the half hour mark, the away side found themselves 3-1 up.


Hougang managed to pull a goal back before half-time – Krajcek’s cutback was prodded into the net by Shawal Anuar after Zharfan Rohaizad failed to parry the cross out of the danger zone.

PHOTO: AIA SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE


After a five-goal treat in the first half, the second 45 minutes began with both sides slightly more tentative in possession resulting in a cagey start.


It took till the 72nd minute for Hougang head coach Clement Teo to make a triple change, bringing on Brazilian midfielder Andre Moritz, forward Shahril Ishak and defender Nazhiim Harman for Sahil Suhaimi, Amy Recha and Fabian Kwok respectively.


The home side struggled to create chances immediately after but were rewarded when a corner in the 89th minute was headed into the bottom corner by striker Pedro Bortoluzo to salvage a late point.


Tanjong Pagar head coach Hasrin Jailani was pleased his side avoided defeat despite conceding a late goal.


Speaking about the Jaguars’ AFC Cup aspirations, he said: “As long as Hougang don’t win today, we stand a chance. Geylang plays the Sailors tomorrow. We are still in the running. We still have five games, and we need to focus on getting results against Tampines and Geylang as it’s basically head-to-head from there.”


PHOTO: AIA SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE


Despite extending their winless run to six games after today, coach Hasrin Jailani claimed: “The mood in the dressing room is excellent. The players are positive and hungry. Even though we lost in the last game against Albirex, we played well. We just have to move on and stay focused for the remaining five games.”


Hougang coach Clement Teo on the other side of the dugout felt his side should have gotten more out of the match.


“We could have been three or four nil up early in the first half, so it was really frustrating. Lionel (Tan) was unconscious for about three seconds, but he remembers what happened and is currently undergoing scans. We brought on Afiq (Noor) instead of Nazhiim (Harman) as we thought it would’ve been too quick for Nazhiim. He has done well in training, but it has been a long time since he played,” he said.


When asked about Kaishu Yamazaki’s exclusion from the matchday squad, coach Clement Teo ruled out injury concerns and attributed the matter to “disciplinary reasons”.


“No, no. Definitely not,” he said in response to whether fans can expect to see the Japanese midfielder back in action before the end of the season.


AIA Singapore Premier League 2022

Other Match Week 23 Results


Balestier Khalsa 3-5 Albirex Niigata Fri, 2 September 2022, Toa Payoh Stadium


Young Lions 0-7 Tampines Rovers Sat, 3 September 2022, Jalan Besar Stadium


Lion City Sailors 1-3 Geylang International Sun, 4 September 2022, Jalan Besar Stadium


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