Five-star Tampines back in title hunt
Sundram's side roar in front of goal to reignite title challenge
TAMPINES ROVERS 5 (Mateo Roskam 3, 10, Rodrigo Tosi 39, 53, 62)
HARIMAU MUDA 1 (Akhir Bahari 32)
After spending most of the season plagued by profligacy, Tampines Rovers' attack finally delivered on their promise at Jalan Besar Stadium last night.
Brazilian striker Rodrigo Tosi netted a hat-trick and Croatian counterpart Mateo Roskam grabbed a brace to help the Stags cruise to an emphatic 5-1 win over Harimau Muda in the Great Eastern Yeo's S.League.
With a game in hand and just seven points behind league leaders Brunei DPMM, it would be foolish to write off star-studded Tampines' title challenge just yet.
After his side finally showed what they are capable of in the final third, Tampines coach V Sundramoorthy challenged his men to maintain the same ruthless streak till the end of the season.
"There's no denying it was a good performance, but the difference was that we took our chances," said the ex-Singapore international.
"In every other game, we created so many chances but the ball just wouldn't hit the back of the net...
"The marathon is coming to an end and we want to make sure we're there at the finish line."
Despite boasting an attack led by foreign stars like Tosi, Roskam and Roberto Alviz, Tampines - prior to last night - had scored more than two goals in a game only twice this season.
Yesterday, they got off to a dream start in the third minute when Roskam opened the scoring with a precise first-time finish from four metres out.
The Croat was on target again seven minutes later when he met an Alviz cross with a firm header past Ramdhan Hamid.
To their credit, the Young Tigers mustered a response by pulling one back in the 32nd minute when S Kumaahran's low shot was too hot for Rodrigo Pacheco to handle, paving the way for Akhir Bahari to slot in the rebound.
But, six minutes before the break, Tosi restored the hosts' two-goal advantage when he met another excellent delivery from Alviz and squeezed his header into the back of the net.
From then, it was the Brazilian who stole the show.
He doubled his tally in the 53rd minute when he latched on to Roskam's lay-off and unleashed a ferocious shot that ricocheted off a hapless Ramdhan and into the back of the net.
Nine minutes later, he was left with the simplest of headers into an unguarded goal after Ramdhan could only parry his initial shot back into his path, completing his hat-trick and capping off the Stags' most dominant display of the season.
While Sundram was a satisfied man at the final whistle, his Harimau Muda counterpart Razip Ismail was left aghast at his side's capitulation.
The Malaysian tactician lamented:"The defence, especially the two centre backs, was very bad tonight…
"Tampines had two experienced forwards and maybe we showed them too much respect."
TNP MAN OF THE MATCH:
RODRIGO TOSI (Tampines Rovers)