The Lions of Singapore humbled a shell-shocked Malaysia team at the following a double from Shahril Ishak, and a goal from 42-year-old Aleksandar Duric
Singapore got their Asean Football Federation Cup campaign off to a fantastic start as they emphatically beat the current holders Malaysia 3-0.
Shahril Ishak got on the score-sheet twice while the veteran Aleksandar Duric compounded the misery for the hosts late on.
The first chance of the match came in the seventh minute after Norsharul beat two Singapore defenders on the byline before unleashing a near post effort which Izwan parried out.
Norsharul then won two free-kicks in five minutes after being felled by Baihakki and Hariss respectively, however, Aidil Zafuan and Safiq Rahim were unable to hit either opportunity on target.
The visiting team were comfortable in possession but unable to fashion any clear cut chances in the first 30 minutes. However, minutes later the Lions shocked the home team following a fine goal by Shahril who toe-poked high past a helpless Khairul Fahmi following a beautiful lofted through-ball from Shaiful Esah.Things went from bad to worse for the home team in the 37th minute as Singapore doubled their lead.
It was a terrible error from the usually reliable Khairul, as he flapped at a left wing free-kick, only managing to palm the ball towards goal, Fadhli cleared off the line but Shahril followed up to head home from close range. It was almost three nil in the 42nd minute as Khairul Amri turned Aidil Zafuan on the edge of the area, but Khairul came out to smother the ball at the strikers feet.
The hosts needed an immediate response in the second half and they bought on W. Zack Haikal on for Khyril Muhymeen at half-time.
However, the Tigers struggled to create any chances with Singapore happy to get men behind the ball and challenge the home team to break them down. All too often the final ball was lacking for Malaysia namely when Norsharul got free in the Singapore area in the 63rd minute and when substitute Mahali found space on the right and attempted to cross in the 70th minute.
It was the visitors who looked more likely to extend their lead, and in the 72nd minute, Shahril almost completed his hat-trick but was denied following a last-ditch tackle by Aidil Zafuan.
However, it didn’t take long for the third goal to come as in the 75th minute, 42-year-old substitute Duric was left unmarked, and he glanced home a left wing delivery from eight yards.
A visibly deflated Malaysia were unable to get back into the game, although stand out player Norsharul did strike the post in added time.
The crushing defeat to their neighbours has piled the pressure on K. Rajagopal and has made their task of retaining the AFF Suzuki Cup all the more difficult.