Home get their revenge over Balestier
Denied by Balestier in Singapore Cup, Protectors gain revenge to reach last four
BALESTIER KHALSA 2
(Niko Tokic 28, Jamil Ali 54)
HOME UNITED 2
(Song Ui Young 31, Hanafi Salleh 85-og)
Home United got their revenge when they took on Balestier Khalsa in The New Paper League Cup Group B clash at the Toa Payoh Stadium last night.
Just weeks after being ousted from the RHB Singapore Cup by the Tigers, losing 4-3 on aggregate over two legs of their quarter-final tie, Home forced a 2-2 draw that denied the hosts a spot in the League Cup semi-finals.
"I am definitely pleased with the result," said Home coach Philippe Aw.
"It's difficult to play on this pitch, especially when it rained like today.
"It's even more difficult against a team like Balestier and we were not able to play the type of football that we wanted, but I am pleased with the point and our dream of winning our first League Cup remains."
Needing only a point to seal a spot in the semis, the Protectors were content to sit back and defend while Balestier, who needed a win to qualify, attacked with reckless abandon.
The Tigers could have taken the lead in the second minute, but were denied when Ho Wai Loon could only fire straight at Hyrulnizam Juma'at after he was picked out by Jamil Ali's cross.
Balestier wasted another chance in the 18th minute when Fazli Ayob's tame effort was collected comfortably by Hyrulnizam.
Home defended resolutely and were able to cope with whatever the Tigers threw at them, but there was no stopping Croatian hitman Niko Tokic in the 28th minute.
Tokic, who has been a revelation for Balestier since he replaced compatriot Robert Pericic in the mid-season transfer window, was sent through on goal and coolly slotted past Hyrulnizam for his sixth goal in all competitions.
But their joy was short-lived as the visitors responded soon after.
Ken Ilso and Song Ui Young exchanged a neat one-two in the 31st minute before Song fired past Balestier custodian Naqiuddin Nodin.
The Tigers were unlucky three minutes later, when Fazli's stinging effort crashed off the woodwork, but Balestier regained the lead 10 minutes after the restart.
Veteran Jamil met overlapping fullback Fadli Kamis' cross beautifully, hooking the ball over a stranded Hyrulnizam before it went in off the underside of the crossbar.
Just as it looked like Marko Kraljevic's side had done enough to earn their place in the semis, they were dealt a cruel blow five minutes from time when substitute Sufianto Salleh's drilled shot was deflected by Hanafi Salleh into his own net.
The draw means that Home, who finished second in Group B on four points, will square off against Brunei DPMM in the semi-finals while Albirex Niigata, who topped the group with six points despite losing 1-0 to Geylang International last night, will meet Tampines Rovers.
Balestier will take on Hougang United in the Plate semi-finals while Warriors FC will face off against Geylang International.
- Geylang International 1 Albirex Niigata 0
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