Defending champions Home United crashed out of the Singapore Cup after being held to a draw in a six-goal thriller in the second leg of their quarter-final at CCK StadiumTatsuro Inui’s goal nine minutes from time levelled a see-saw match and saw the Warriors progress to a semi-final date with Gombak United as they ran out 5-4 winners on aggregate.
Seeking to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit, the Protectors went on the offensive straight from the kick-off, with defender-cum-midfielder Franklin Anzite joining forwards Frederic Mendy, Qiu Li and Indra Sahdan in a four-pronged attack.
They were nearly caught out in the 12th minute, when Fazrul Nawaz broke the offside trap to latch on to a long ball from Marin Vidosevic only to fluff his lines and shoot over.
The Warriors took the lead two minutes later though, as midfielder Shimpei Sakurada rose highest to nod in a corner from Tatsuro Inui.
But the celebrations were short-lived, as Home hit back just thirty seconds later.
Anzite found Mendy with a long, searching ball and the striker produced an outrageous finish, gently lofting the ball over Shahril Jantan to level the match.
Mislav Karoglan then fired into the side netting from an acute angle and Qiu Li lashed a shot from distance wide as both sides continued to trade blows.
Shahril then produced a fine save to deny Qiu Li, tipping a rasping 25-yard freekick over the bar before denying the forward again with a save at the near post.
The visitors finally found the back of the net a second time in the 43rd minute, when Anzite glanced in a Qiu Li freekick to give Home the lead and level the aggregate scores.
A poor backward header from Rosman Sulaiman to goalkeeper Nazri Sabri nearly gifted SAFFC the lead a minute after the restart, but Fazrul failed to reach the ball as the goalmouth gaped in front of him.
Nazri then had to be alert to tip over a looping shot from Karoglan, as the home side came out with guns blazing after the break.
The pressure paid off in the 52nd minute as Inui picked up an overhit cross and pulled the ball back into the area for Karoglan to tap home the simplest of finishes.
Home coach Lee Lim Saeng responded by bring on Firdaus Idros and John Wilkinson to bolster the attack, and it paid dividends in the 71st minute.
Mendy waltzed past two defenders in the box before firing in a sublime finish from the tightest of angles to give Home the lead and make it 4-4 on aggregate.
Aliff Shafaein wasted a glorious chance to score when he somehow headed the rebound straight at Nazri, after Inui’s brilliant chip had crashed back off the crossbar into his path.
SAFFC equalised for the second time in the 81st minute, as Inui curled a superb freekick from just outside the box past the wall and a rooted Nazri, bringing the Warriors bench off their feet in delight.
Wilkinson lashed a dipping effort just past the post in stoppage time, but it was not to be for Home as SAFFC held on to the draw and book their place in the last four of the Cup.