The Tampines Rovers maintained their strong start in Asia when they drew 1-1 with Ceres-La Salle in Group E of the AFC Cup on Tuesday evening at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
The Stags have now claimed seven points from their first three games and look almost certain to progress to the knock-out phase of the competition.
As for Ceres, they now lie in second place in Group E with five points and still have work to do if they are to advance.
— Tampines Rovers FC (@MightyStags) March 15, 2016
The first half saw both teams feel each other out and ended goalless. However, both sides were able to put together some tidy passages of play and it seemed unlikely that 90 minutes would pass without a goal being scored. After 69 minutes Hafiz Sujad found the back of the net from a cross for the home side, a quarter of an hour after he picked up a yellow card.
Izwan Mahbud was rock solid in goal for the Rovers and he commanded his back four well as a fierce defensive effort looked destined to ensure that he kept a clean sheet for the third consecutive AFC Cup game.
But it was not to be as Adrian Gallardo pilfered a point for the visitors with an 88th minute equaliser.
88′ Equalizer for Ceres. Adri slots in a Kiki pass. Tampines Rovers 1-1 Ceres-La Salle FC #AFCCup2016
— Ceres-La Salle FC (@ceresfootball) March 15, 2016
Despite suffering this minor hiccup, the Singapore outfit are currently looking like red-hot favourites to go all the way in this year’s competition.
For 87 minutes the Stags again showed ruthless defensive capabilities as well as the ability to create chances when needed.
Players with the class and experience of Jermaine Pennant will only strengthen their bid to lift the trophy this year.
The two sides will play each other again next month in round four of the AFC Cup.