The Bruneian side fell to their first home loss of the season, as the visitors walked away from an intimidating venue with all three points thanks to Monsef Zerka's solitary strikeIn a game which many had touted as the battle of the league's two best coaches, Patrick Vallee outwitted Vjeran Simunic as he steered Tanjong Pagar United to a crucial 1-0 win at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium last night.
A relatively quiet half, especially by Brunei DPMM's standards, saw Shahrazen Said blast over from distance before Kamel Ramdani tested Wardun Yussof with a tame effort from the edge of the area.
Najib Tarif, starting in place of the injured Azwan Salleh, was struggling to find his feet, whilst a lack of sharpness throughout the DPMM team pointed to fatigue as they took to the field for the third time in the space of a week.
Moroccan Monsef Zerka demonstrated why he currently sits atop the S.League goal-scoring charts, when he capitalized on some slack DPMM defending in the 26th minute.
Skipper Rosmin Kamis gifted possession to Hafiz Nor, who laid the ball inside for Zerka. The Jaguars’ marquee signing turned Dino Drpic with ease, before side-stepping a premature sliding challenge from Subhi Abdillah on the edge of the area and producing a composed finish to find the bottom corner.
Drpic was having an unusually below-par game by his standards, and after playing a key part in Tanjong Pagar's first goal, the Croatian gave the ball away in a dangerous area. Hafiz cut inside and played the ball into Ismael Benahmed, who struggled to get the ball out of his feet before firing against Wardun. Hafiz was on hand once more to pick up the pieces, but the 25-year-old's effort was deflected by Shahrazen, with Sairol Sahari clearing the ball off the line.
Simunic responded by throwing Tales dos Santos on in place of Najib, tasking the Brazilian with man-marking Zerka, who was left starved of possession for the remainder of the game.
Joao Moreira's free header was then saved by Jaguars custodian Aurelien Herisson, before the Portuguese striker then blasted into the side-netting after turning his marker.
The tides turned in DPMM's favor when winger Asraf Rashid saw red in the 68th minute. The 28-year-old slid in on Moreira after the latter had already been tripped by Ahmad Latiff, and referee Leow Thiam Hoe deemed the challenge as dangerous play, with Latiff also receiving a booking for his two cents’ worth.
Dos Santos was pushed further up the field with the Wasps resorting to pumping balls into the box, and looked particularly threatening from set pieces.
Shahrazen's glancing header off the back of a corner rattled Herisson's post, before an unmarked Dos Santos sent a header over the bar.
With DPMM pushing so far up the pitch in search of an equalizer, the ten-men Jaguars almost pounced for a second time, had it not been for a heroic last ditch tackle by Sairol to deny Hafiz after the winger had beaten the offside trap.
As the final whistle went, Vallee dropped to his knees and punched the air in celebration whilst his counterpart Simunic was left stunned and speechless after watching his side slip to their first home defeat of the season.