Three-flowing DPMM slay Woodlands
DPMM FC responded to their first defeat of 2012 with conviction by putting three goals past Woodlands Wellington at the Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium on Sunday evening to claim a comfortable 3-0 victory and restore themselves to the top of the table.
Shahrazen Said gave the Wasps the lead as early as the third minute, cutting inside from the right before firing a left-footed shot past Rams goalkeeper Ahmadulhaq Che Omar.
Brazilian star Rodrigo Grahl then grabbed goals either side of the half-time break to round off a win that delighted the home fans.
There were further threats of more goals from the hosts throughout the game, with Helmi Zambin’s early left-footed effort from outside the box grazing the outside of the post.
Azwan Salleh should have give DPMM a two-goal cushion in the twelfth minute when he received the ball in the box with yards of space ahead of him, only to fire into the side netting.
Woodlands came close to finding an equaliser on 26 minutes, when Danny Chew, making a rare start, found space down the right and fired a low ball in across the face of goal.
Farizal Basri, who was lurking inside the six-yard box, beat towering centreback Tales dos Santos to Chan’s pass, but somehow managed to skew the ball over the bar from all of three yards out.
DPMM capitalised on the Rams’ failure to snatch one back, and were 2-0 up two minutes later when Grahl poked home Shahrazen’s cross after the Rams defence was caught ball-watching.
Ahmadulhaq’s best efforts to deny Grahl were not enough, and he was injured in the process after bravely throwing himself at the 35-year-old.
Shahrazen looked to have given the Wasps a 3-0 lead, tapping home after Ahmadulhaq had spilled Grahl’s effort, before realising the linesman had deemed DPMM’s top scorer to be in an offside position when Grahl had taken his shot.
But it proved only to be a temporary reprieve for Woodlands, who had it worse in the second half.
Basiru Osman used his pace and strength to create some space for himself early on with a direct run towards goal, but despite all his hard work, the Ghanaian was let down by his poor finishing, stabbing the ball into the side-netting.
However, the game was all but over when the linesman awarded DPMM a penalty on 62 minutes after Helmi was adjudged to have been brought down inside the box by Edward Tan.
Grahl stepped up and sent the Woodlands goalkeeper the wrong way to make it 3-0 and claim his second goal of the night.
Shahrazen had the chance to grab a second goal himself on 72 minutes when former SAFFC midfielder Ivan Jerkovic picked him out in the box with a delightful through ball into the box.
But the 26-year-old was left frustrated by Ahmadulhaq, who made himself big and did well to deny the hosts a fourth goal.
The Rams responded by bringing on some attacking reinforcements, risking the fitness of both Moon Soon Ho and Hussein Akil in an attempt to salvage something from the game and capitalise on the complacency which was starting to emerge from the Wasps.
However, despite some promising attacks, the duo provided no real threat to the DPMM backline.
24-year-old Najib Tarif made his debut for the home side five minutes from time, coming on in place of Osman, although he was very much limited to a cameo appearance, as was Awangku Fakharazzi Hassan, who replaced Helmi in the dying embers of the game.
That did little to stop the players in red and black from breaking into song and dance after giving Croatian coach Vjeran Simunic the perfect birthday present: a well-deserved 3-0 victory.
“It’s like a dream come true,” remarked Simunic.
“It is not only a present for my birthday, it is a present for this beautiful country, because today was one of the most beautiful games we’ve played this season.
“I think the fans enjoyed it very much, and it’s a pity it wasn’t 6-0 or 7-0. Woodlands are a good team, but DPMM came back today (after last week’s loss to Home United), which is what I wanted before the game.”
Asked on his decision to bring on younger legs Adi Said, Najib and Fakhrazzi late in the game, the 58-year-old explained he was giving these players chances after feeling confident the clean sheet was secure.
“I never like changing my team when they are playing well, but today, with ten minutes to go, I decided to give them a chance,” he said.
“I’m very happy Wardun (Yussof) kept a clean sheet, so I must think about every player. I must think about Wardun, or Osman (who was replaced by Adi), or Rodrigo, who played very well, but I subbed off.
“It’s not easy to give everybody a chance, but my players understand the situation and are happy to be on the bench.”
Meanwhile, Woodlands assistant coach Clement Teo was disappointed with the result, after watching his side suffer an early setback.
“Naturally, some of the players were down after we conceded,” he told sleague.com.
“But overall, we were quite happy with our second-half performance. We did have our chances, especially in the first half, but it’s one of those things.”
Speaking on head coach Salim Moin’s decision to bench Moon, whose left knee is still causing him problems, and Akil, who has been out for three weeks with a hamstring injury, Teo remained calm.
“We were thinking ‘why should we risk them?’” he said.
“We have got able replacements. It didn’t work out the way we had expected it to, so it was unfortunate.
“This is football, it is one of those things that happen, whereby a better team, when they take the lead, they will become complacent. And we had the opportunities, but we just couldn’t convert.”
DPMM now find themselves at the top of the S.League table, two points ahead of Balestier Khalsa, with Malaysia’s Harimau Muda a further point adrift in third place.