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Lions stun Palestine to top Group D

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Singapore vs PalestineSingapore beat Palestine 2-1 in World Cup qualifier to top Asia Group D. Photo: Sport Singapore

Singapore beat Palestine 2-1 in World Cup qualifier to top Asia Group D at Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday.

At the end of the match the players from both teams crumpled to the pitch. The Lions, their energy spent having beat opponents ranked 60 places above them. Palestine, their morale crushed as they let slip an opportunity to stamp their authority in a tough qualifying group.

As with the game against Yemen, the Lions started brightly with Ikhsan Fandi and Faris Ramli providing trickery upfront. But it was Kedah defender Shakir Hamzah, playing as left wing back, who put his team ahead in the fourth minute pouncing on a loose ball at the edge of the penalty box to fire pass Palestine’s Rami Hamada in goal.

The Lions looked to be in control but against the run of play Palestine equalized after Singapore failed to clear a corner. Yaser Hamed reacted first to a loose ball and put his side on level terms in the 14th minute.

Singapore vs PalestineShakir Hamzah celebrating after putting the Lions ahead. Photo: Sport Singapore

That proved a temporary setback as the Lions pushed forward in search of the equalizer which would come in the 39th minute through Safuwan Baharudin’s powerful header.

In the second half the Lions were happy to contain Palestine and hit them on the counter, but the score remained the same.

Singapore coach Tatsuma Yoshida praised the vociferous crowd during the post-match press conference.

“We got three points today because of the support,” he said.

Singapore captain Hariss Harun was also effusive in his assessment of the role the “12th man” played.

“We are very happy and grateful that the fans came out in full voice.”