Written by: Ryan Low
Philippines invitee Ceres La Salle produced a superb second-half comeback to beat Balestier Khalsa 2-1 in the RHB Singapore Cup third place playoff at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday evening.
The Tigers led at half time through Niko Tokic’s early opener, but the Busmen came up good in the second half and scored two within five minutes to take third spot in the competition.
Marko Kraljevic’s charges got off to a dream start as they struck the back of the net after just four minutes. Tokic latched onto a long ball, held off his marker in the box before lashing home a volley into the bottom left corner.
Ceres then created a few chances to level matters for the remainder of the first half, but spurned all of them.
Stephan Schrock fired wide on a couple of occasions, while Bienvenido Morejon somehow lobbed over from close range with just Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam to beat.
The visitors carried where they left off in the second half and duly grabbed a deserved equaliser in the 65th minute. Schrock’s deflected cross was punched onto the bar by Zaiful, before Ott was the right place at the right time to bury the rebound.
Things got even better for them four minutes later as Schrock found space from 30 yards out, before thumping home a belter that left Zaiful grasping at thin air and put his side into the driving seat.
Balestier piled on the pressure in the dying stages to restore parity and went the closest on the stroke of full time.
However, substitute Danial Farhan Tan’s close-range shot came back off the underside of the crossbar, after Ceres failed to clear their lines from a free kick.
Time eventually ran out for the Tigers as Ceres went on to become the first Philippines outfit to finish third in the RHB Singapore Cup.
Balestier Khalsa head coach Marko Kraljevic: “We led 1-0 at half time and defended very well. But I knew it’s going to be difficult because Ceres is a good team and they were pressing us really hard.
“We made some individual mistakes in the second half and they punished us. We were also slow in going forward and not able to use the space given to us. End of the day, the boys worked hard but came out second best.
“It’s a very disappointing season and we should have done better; I don’t want to make excuses.”
Ceres La Salle head coach Risto Vidakovic: “We were not specially motivated for this game because we already have finished our league season and already qualified for the AFC Cup.
“In the first half, we played too many long balls. We changed and played more together in the second half, which helped us to win the game.”
Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK, C), Fadli Kamis, Hanafi Salleh, Emir Lotinac, Niko Tokic, Miroslav Kristic, Fadhil Noh, Syafiq Zainal (Danial Farhan Tan 34’), Ahmad Syahir (Syahfuddin Eska 59’), Ho Wai Loon (Zulkhair Mustaffa 75’), Hazzuwan Halim
Ceres La Salle: Louie Casas (GK), Son Yong Chan, Jason Sabio (Marwin Angeles 32’), Kevin Ingreso, Bienvenido Morejon, Manuel Ott, Stephan Schrock, Arnie Jr. Pasinabo (Nathaniel Burkey 84’), Kim Sang Min (C), Jeffrey Christiaens, Jalsor Soriano (Marvin Angeles 90’)
Source of Article: Sleague.com