Captain Yasir Hanapi stars in Tampines’ 3-1 win over Tanjong Pagar
Stags captain comes on to score 3rd goal in 3 games to help side go joint top
An inspired performance by captain Yasir Hanapi gave Tampines Rovers the composure they needed to overcome Tanjong Pagar United 3-1 in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) at Our Tampines Hub last night.
Playing their third game in nine days, Tampines coach Gavin Lee started with the 31-year-old attacking midfielder on the bench, bringing him on only in the second half.
And Yasir duly delivered, conjuring not only their second goal, but also a killer pass which led to their third goal, after Tanjong Pagar had narrowed the deficit and threatened a comeback.
|TAMPINES ROVERS||TANJONG PAGAR UNITED|
|(Madhu Mohana 6, Yasir Hanapi 61, Taufik Suparno 87)||(Luiz Junior 81-pen)|
"Yasir came on and put in a very good performance and it was a good goal but it is not just his goal," said Lee.
"He helped us improve our pressing and he was the leader we needed to stay calm and finish the game off."
The Stags had made a lively start, mustering three efforts inside two minutes, including a shot that whizzed past the post after just 31 seconds from forward Armin Bosnjak.
Their incessant pressure culminated in the game's opening goal in the sixth minute, when an acrobatic effort from striker Boris Kopitovic turned the ball into the path of centre-back Madhu Mohana, who prodded home for his second goal in three matches.
Reo Nishiguchi then spurned a glorious chance to pull Tanjong Pagar level before the game started to fizzle out, following which play was suspended for half an hour as the lightning warning system was activated.
The introduction of Yasir for Marc Ryan Tan at half-time was the catalyst that Tampines needed as they found more attacking impetus.
In the 61st minute, Yasir made it 2-0 by curling in a spectacular strike after Zehrudin Mehmedovic found him at the edge of the box.
"It is always nice to score, especially as an attacker, but it is credit to my teammates," Yasir said after bagging his third goal in as many games.
With nine minutes left, the Jaguars halved the deficit through Luiz Junior's penalty, after Shah Shahiran fouled Shodai Nishikawa in the box.
Their confidence boosted, the Jaguars went for the jugular, but Yasir doused their fire by sending a through-ball into the path of the busy Bosnjak who crossed for substitute Taufik Suparno to volley in his side's third goal in the 87th minute.
"It wasn't an easy game, they gave us a tough fight, but we managed to come through," Yasir added.
"That is down to coach, who anticipated fatigue will set in after three games in a week.
"So the substitutes today had an impact as we were fresher."
With the win, Tampines became joint leaders of the SPL, behind Albirex Niigata only on goal difference after the Japanese side were held 0-0 by Balestier Khalsa at the Jurong East Stadium yesterday.
Tanjong Pagar coach Hasrin Jailani took heart in his team's improved showing after the 5-0 mauling by the Lion City Sailors last week.
"We played better than our last game, we pressed a little higher and defensively we worked harder," Hasrin said.
"As a team, we are OK. We are getting better but we need individuals to be stronger, we need to cut out individual errors."