The return of the Singapore Premier League provided us with some surprise results, fierce battles, spectacular performances and some second half thrillers.
Let's get into last weekends action!
Tanjong Pagar 1 v 1 Young Lions
The game between these two sides was a rescheduled match from May, when the game had to be postponed due to severe weather conditions. The game was relatively open from the start, both teams having a fair share of possession and attempts on goal. Young Lions were the ones to open the scoring in the 21st minute when Zamani Zamri was judged to have been fouled in the box after Pagar keeper spilled his save and caught Zamri with a trailing leg. 22 year old forward, Hami Syahin stepped forward and calmly slotted a neat penalty into the bottom right corner. Following half time, the Young Lions had to endure a constant attack from Pagar and did well to keep them at bay for a while. However, in the 66th minute after a poor defensive clearance, Tanjong's Brazilian forward Luiz pounced on the loose ball to hit the ball on the volley to make sure both teams shared the point.
Albirex Niigata (S) 1 v 1 Lion City Sailors
This top of the table clash was as end to end as expected, with both teams having plenty of opportunites throughout the game. It was the Sailors who started off the better of the two sides, with various attacking chances. However, Albirex quickly adjusted and pushed Lion City back with some beautiful counter attacking football, making Sailors goalkeeper Hassan Sunny work hard. The keeper pulled off some tremendous saves to keep his side in it, however he didn't have quite enough to prevent Ryoya Taniguchi's 47th minute penalty just before half time. Not wanting to miss out on collecting vital points against a title rival, Sailors came out at half time with some renewed vigor and energy. In the 60th minute, the visitors brought out the big guns in players Diego Lopes and Gabriel Quak, who proved to make a big difference in the side, linking up well to create fantastic opportunities. It came as no surprise that this pressure amounted to a goal, when Lopes did well to bring the ball down the wing, passing to Hafiz Nor who sent in a teasing cross into the box. Lion City's top goal scorer Stipe Plazibat capitalised on the opportunity, hitting the ball from the cross first time into the roof of the net from a few yards out. The game ended with a fair result, with Lion City Sailors remaining a point off Niigata in 1st. It was also Kim Do-hoon's first game in charge of the Sailors side, following Aurelio Vidmar's departure to Thailand.
Hougang United 1 v 4 Tanjong Pagar
This was a match where you would have favoured in form Hougang to get the win and put pressure on second placed Lion City Sailors. However, that certainly didn't happen. For the opening 45 minutes of the game, both sides were at a stalemate, with neither creating too many opportunities. It was 0-0 heading into half time. But, after what we can presume to be a very inspirational speech from the legendary Pagar manager, Noh Alam Shah, the Jaguars came out with fight. In the 48th minute they opened the scoring through a Anaqi Ismit header. But Hougang quickly reacted. After receiving a freekick on the outside of the box, United's Tomoyoki Doi scored his 15th goal of the season after a brilliant freekick. The visitors however were not about to let this game slip from their hands. They responded 5 minutes later in the 67th minute with Luiz firing home a close range shot to make it 2-1 to Tanjong. The two sides continued to battle for supremacy, but it was through two collected finishes from Nishiguchi and Amri in the 88th and 94th minute respectively, which won the game decisively for Pagar.
Geylang International 3 v 1 Balestier Khalsa
It was Balestier who struck first in this match between the bottom half teams. Sime Žužul capitalising on a defensive error by Geylang captain Yuki Ichikawa to fire home a shot from outside of the box. His 7th goal of the season and fifth goal in four consecutive games. Khalsa looked to hold onto the 1-0 lead into half time, however Geylang had better ideas. After some brilliant work down the left wing by Moresche, Amy Recha finished off a one on one chance to make it 1-1. The Eagles then began their attack in the second half, making use of their pace for Riki Kimura to make it 2-1 in the 55th minute after a through ball by Barry Maguire. Geylang finished the game off in the 63rd minute with Amy getting his brace after losing his man in the box, making a sharp turn before hammering it into the net with his weaker foot.
Matchweek 13 Fixtures
Hougang United v Albirex Niigata (S) | Friday 30th July | 12:45pm UK Time
Hougang will be looking to bounce back after their weekend thumping at the hands of Pagar. If they want to keep up with the top of table, then they need to get a result against 1st placed Niigata. There are some concerns however, as United's injury list continues to grow with key players likely out for the fixture. But, Albirex also have their own injury woes, with two of their strikers out with injury. Despite this, Niigata have enough depth and mentality to go into this game without worry. After all, they are still yet to lose a game this season.
Prediction: A tight game but, Albirex to get the win
Balestier Khalsa v Young Lions | Saturday 31st July | 10:30am UK Time
After some poor performances, Balestier will be happy to see captain Zaiful Nizam return to the starting line up after being rested last game. They are facing against bottom side Young Lions, who are missing two key defenders through injury and suspension. The Lions also have three players out due to being enlisted for National Service. Balestier should look to end their win drought and make the most of weakened Young Lions team.
Prediction: Balestier to bounce back and get their first win in 8 games
Tanjong Pagar v Geylang International | Sunday 1st August | 10:30am UK Time
Both teams are in fine goal scoring form, beating both their respective oppositions last weekend with some high intensity attacking football, as well as some beautifully worked goals. Geylang and Tanjong are missing key players, both through suspension and injury. It will certainly be a game which is well balanced, but can one of them just edge it to get the win?
Prediction: This will be a good battle. I feel this will either end in a draw or a narrow win to Tanjong
Where to watch
If you're interested in watching any of this weekend Singapore Premier League games, you can do so with relative ease. All games will be available to watch live and for free on the Singapore Premier League YouTube channel, on the Singapore Premier League Facebook page, 1playsports YouTube channel, 1playsports Facebook page and on ElevenSports.