The Argentinian scored the only goal of the game as the uniformed giants edged out a gutsy Geylang International side 1-0 to keep pace with league leaders Brunei DPMM
With the Bruneian outfit beating Albirex Niigata 2-1 the day before to open up a 10-point gap, the Warriors were desperate to get back to winning ways after their recent loss to Home United and a subsequent draw against reigning champions Tampines Rovers.
The visitors had to work hard to earn the points though as Geylang put up a stern test, especially in the second half, with Hassan Sunny forced to make a series of crucial saves to preserve their lead.
Warriors started the match brighter between the two and deservedly went ahead six minutes before the break after Velez lobbed a defender before firing an unstoppable shot beyond Joey Sim’s reach.
The home side, in comparison, were rather tame in the first half but they awoke from their slumber and mustered a series of opportunities in the second period.
Aliff Shafaein had a golden opportunity to equalise in the 54th minute, but he failed to beat Hassan one-on-one.
Ridhuan Muhammad then looked to be the most potent option for the home side towards the end of the game, but Hassan, with the help of the crossbar, was equal to his efforts.
Eventually, the uniformed gianys held on for all three points as Jorg Steinebrunner’s men failed to score for the first time since he took over the Eagles.
Steinebrunner rued a poor first-half performance after the match, but was nevertheless pleased with his side’s response after the break, as well as lavishing praise on Hassan.
“If we played like this in the first half with the same energy level and physical approach, then we might be in a better position result-wise,” he admitted.
“Hassan Sunny had a great second half. We had chances and we created chances but we didn’t take them. Credit to Hassan, he’s a very good goalkeeper. We had enough chances in the second half, so I can’t fault my players. We have given Warriors a very good fight in the second half and that’s what we are going to build on.
“The last nine games we were either on the same level or we were the better team, so credit goes to the players and how far they have come in less than two months.”
Alex Weaver was pleased with the result, but paid tribute to the Eagles for giving them a tough fight.
“We played positively from the start like we normally do,” he said. “The players did extremely well defensively and going forward and we created some very good chances, as did Geylang.
“We possibly should have won by more, but credit goes to Geylang because Jorg has come in and done an extremely good job to steady the ship and I know what that feels like in terms of that responsibility of turning things around. He’s done very well and you saw a good Geylang team, so credit to our boys for coming away with the three points.”
Weaver was also in a confident mood ahed of their top-of-the-table showdown with DPMM next week.
"We are very confident against any team in this league,” he asserted.
“We had the only blip against Home United but we bounced back against the champions (Tampines) and did really well, should have won that. But we showed to everybody we mean business and I’m very excited about taking on Brunei next week.”