Sailors sweat Plazibat's injury ahead of Sunday's game with Albirex
SPL's top scorer a doubt for Sunday's crucial tie with leaders Albirex
The Lion City Sailors racked up their third win in 11 days with a 3-1 victory over Hougang United last night, but will be sweating over the fitness of star striker Stipe Plazibat, who was taken off with a hamstring injury midway through the Singapore Premier League (SPL) game.
|HOUGANG UNITED||LION CITY SAILORS|
|(Charlie Machell 90+3-pen)||(Gabriel Quak 12, Hafiz Nor 58, Shahdan Sulaiman 87)|
Plazibat, the league's leading marksman with 14 goals, has been pivotal to the Sailors' title charge, contributing nine goals and five assists, but could now miss Sunday's crucial encounter with SPL leaders Albirex Niigata.
With five games left, Aurelio Vidmar's third-placed side are three points behind Albirex, who defeated Balestier Khalsa 2-0 at Jurong East Stadium last night.
"Stipe felt a little twinge in his hamstring, he will see a physio tomorrow and probably get a scan (done as well), and we will assess it from there," Vidmar told The New Paper.
"It is going to be a loss if he doesn't play (against Albirex), but we have shown tonight that we have flexibility in that position as well."
It was indeed the case as Plazibat's injury did not affect proceedings at Hougang Stadium. The Cheetahs' biggest tormentor proved to be Gabriel Quak, who was involved in all three goals for the Sailors.
The Singapore international opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a sumptuous free-kick from 20 metres.
Then, two minutes before the hour mark, Quak slipped a ball into the path of Aqhari Abdullah, who squared it to Hafiz Nor for an easy tap-in.
Three minutes from time, substitute Shahril Ishak's pass released Quak. He then dribbled his way into the penalty box, before unleashing a drive that Hougang goalkeeper Ridhuan Barudin palmed away.
The rebound fell to midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman, who headed the ball into an unguarded net from close range.
Hougang bagged a consolation in injury time, when Charlie Machell scored from the spot, after Tajeli Salamat brought down Faiz Salleh in the box.
Vidmar was pleased with their fourth win in five games, calling it one of their most impressive this season.
His opposite number Clement Teo rued his side's missed chances, adding: "They are a quality side in terms of attacking... they were still able to create and score without Stipe. It was disappointing, but I have to give my boys credit for their effort."
Over at Jurong West Stadium, a Jordan Webb hat-trick handed Tampines Rovers a 3-1 win over the Young Lions. In the process, Webb took his goal tally in local football to 101, and kept the second-placed Stags level on points with Albirex.
- Geylang Int'l 2 Tanjong Pagar United 1
- Young Lions 1 Tampines Rovers 3
- Albirex Niigata 2 Balestier Khalsa 0