Hougang came away with a point from a 3-3 draw in Brunei against DPMM but had to rely on their goalkeeper to save two penalties
A dramatic game between DPMM FC and Hougang United FC at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium on Friday night ended 3-3, thanks, in part, to a stunning performance from man-of-the-match Fadhil Salim.
After a drab 0-0 draw with Home United the week before, nothing short of a win was expected of the S.League runners-up to satisfy the cravings of the Bruneian faithful, and things got off to a great start when Joao Moreira was sent clean through by Shahrazen Said in the 3rd minute, but the Portuguese striker must have been feeling the heat as he fired his effort straight at Fadhil Salim.
The Cheetahs were conceding an unusual amount of free-kicks, and were made to pay in the 27th minute.
Skipper Rosmin Kamis floated across to the far post, with new-boy Dino Drpic challenging Fadhil Salim for the ball and coming out on top. The Croatian's header back into the box was pounced on by golden boy, Shahrazen Said, who nodded the ball in from three yards out.
Ivan Bosnjak was impressing up front with his hold up play, and the Croatian could have had himself a penalty in the 37th minute when he went down under the challenge of Syaqir Sulaiman, but referee W Ravisanthiran waved away the 34 year-old's protests.
DPMM FC were caught napping just moments later, with Cheetahs midfielder Mamadou Diallo cutting them straight down the middle, before finding Liam Shotton on the left flank.
The 26 year-old cut inside, and under pressure from Sairol Sahari, managed to get a shot off which caught Wardun Yussof by surprise as the ball nestled into the far corner to make it 1-1.
Simunic's pep talk at half-time obviously had a significant effect on his charges as they came out of the tunnel a different animal, and took the lead once more with the backing of their home supporters, who had turned up in the thousands.
A long ball forward from Drpic was flicked on by Joao, who rolled off his marker to receive the return ball from Shahrazen Said. The former Valencia man showed the absolute and utmost composure which his glaring miss in the first half lacked to coolly dink the ball over the advancing Salim into the empty Hougang net and mark his home debut with his first goal for the club.
The points looked to be in the bag when Shahrazen connected well with Rosmin's corner, his glancing near-post header beating the impressive Salim all hands down.
With their backs against the wall and staring down the barrel of a loaded gun, Hougang United bounced back almost immediately through Mamadou Diallo. The 23 year-old's 25 yard free-kick went straight through the DPMM FC wall and rocketed into the top right corner of Wardun Yussof's goal.
The game appeared to be over when W Ravisanthiran awarded DPMM FC a penalty in the 74th minute after Thomas Beattie clumsily barged Ivan Bosnjak over in the box.
DPMM FC's top scorer last season, Shahrazen Said, had declared ahead of the campaign that one of his personal goals was to become the first DPMM FC player to score a hat-trick, and could not pass up a better opportunity than the one which was presented to him.
However, the 28 year-old's weak effort low down to Salim's right was saved comfortably, and the penalty miss would prove costly as the Cheetahs found an equaliser almost immediately thereafter.
Azhar Sairudin's free-kick from the right found Syaqir Sulaiman, who powerfully headed home after Wardun Yussof was caught stranded in no-man's land, leaving DPMM FC gob-struck.
In a bizarre turn of events, W Ravisanthiran pointed to the Hougang penalty spot again and brandished a straight red card to Cheetahs skipper Lau Meng Meng after his assistant had spotted an off-the-ball foul on Joao Moreira.
Ivan Bosnjak stepped up to take the ensuing spot-kick, and Fadhil Salim once more won the battle of wits as the 30 year-old dived the same way to beat away the Croatian's effort.
Simunic threw Adi Said on in place of Azwan Saleh in search of that elusive winner, but to no avail, as Hougang United took a valuable point back to the Hougang Stadium.