Ramazotti helps DPMM retain third spot
DPMM striker scores twice in two minutes to strengthen hold on third spot
(Stipe Plazibat 9)
BRUNEI DPMM 2
(Rafael Ramazotti 51, 52)
Their hopes of retaining the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League title may all be over, but Brunei DPMM FC are determined to finish the season on a high.
Since the start of last month, the Bruneian side have won eight of their past 10 games in all competitions, with the latest being a come-from-behind 2-1 triumph over Hougang United at Jalan Besar Stadium last night.
The result means the Wasps now have a four-point lead in third place over both Geylang International and Hougang but, when asked if he felt a top-three finish was now in the bag, DPMM coach Steve Kean insists they are still aiming higher.
"We're not giving up on second place just yet," said the Scot.
"If (leaders) Albirex Niigata win the next couple of games and (second-placed) Tampines Rovers decide to focus on other competitions, there could be something for us and we still have to play them too.
"The important thing now is to keep our run going and I've challenged the players to end the season unbeaten.
"They deserve all the credit for coming out and delivering in the second half, although we couldn't have been much worse than we were in the first."
It certainly looked like DPMM would suffer a first defeat in five outings, given the way their opponents dominated the early proceedings.
With nine minutes on the clock, Hougang went ahead when Stipe Plazibat was left unmarked inside the box to receive Iqbal Hussain's cut-back and he sent a deflected effort past Wardun Yussof.
Plazibat then spurned an opportunity to double their advantage when he smashed a shot onto the bar after beating the offside trap, before the woodwork also prevented Azwan Ali from equalising for DPMM in the 21st minute.
Nonetheless, DPMM looked a completely different side in the second half and it took them just six minutes to level the score.
It was no surprise that Rafael Ramazotti, one of the league's Golden Boot contenders, found the back of the net with a calm finish on the rebound, after his initial effort had forced Ridhuan Barudin into a smart save.
Just a minute later, the game was turned on its head when Ridhuan's error of judgment saw him charge off his line but fail to deal with Azwan Saleh's high ball, allowing Ramazotti to nip it and nod the ball into the unguarded goal.
Hougang had chances to force a draw at the very least, but were let down by some poor finishing.
They also found Wardun in inspired form, as the goalkeeper showed remarkable authority dealing with high balls and also produced a fine double-save to deny Iqbal and Fumiya Kogure to secure the win for DPMM.
"We dominated most of the game, but we were disorganised in the first 10 minutes of the second half and individual errors led to us conceding two goals," lamented Hougang coach K Balagumaran.
"If we had taken our chances, I think we would have won."
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