Singapore 1 Thailand 2: Chappuis breaks Singapore hearts with late penalty
Charyl Chappuis broke Singapore hearts with a penalty in the 89th minute after Safuwan Baharudin was ajudged to have handled a cross in the box.
Khairul Amri had earlier cancelled out Mongkol Thosakrai’s opener for Thailand, but it all came to naught as defending champions Singapore started their title defence with a loss
There were barely 10 minutes on the clock when Baihakki Khaizan lost sight of Prakit Deeprom in the box.
The mistake proved costly as the Thai midfielder squared the ball for a gleeful Mongkol Thosakrai to fire into the roof of the net from close range.
Credit to Singapore though, as the Lions refused to let the early deficit affect them.
Amri had Singapore’s first real chance of the game after receiving the ball with his back to goal, but his shot on the turn hit the turf and off a defender for an easy save to the Thai goalkeeper.
Baihakki soon found himself the first name in the referee’s book for a clumsy foul on Charyl Chappuis as the Thais looked to launch a quick counter-attack in the 17th minute.
Singapore’s pressure was paying off though, as they finally made the breakthrough in the 19th minute, with Shaiful Esah finding plenty of space down the left flank as goalscoring hero Mongkol received treatment off the pitch.
The splendid cross to the far post was met by Amri at full speed, with the striker leaping high to head into the net and spark celebrations from the home fans.
It was a fairly even first half to this point, with Kroekrit Thawikan coming close with a shot from distance before Amri was denied by the Thai defenders and an offside flag on two separate occasions.
Baihakki failed to return for the second half, with coach Bernd Stange deciding to take off his veteran centre-back, moving Hariss Harun back to partner Safuwan and bringing on Zulfahmi Arifin.
Hassan Sunny was called into action to tip a Prakreet Deeprom howitzer over the bar shortly after, as the Thais pressed for another goal.
There was concern for Amri after a clash of heads while clearing the ball from a Thai corner kick, but the Singaporean striker was soon back on his feet after treatment.
A rash of substitutions soon followed, as Shahdan Sulaiman picked out Shahril Ishak with an early cross that evaded the Thai defensive line but Peerapat Notechaya did just enough to make him scuff his shot.
Thailand coach Kiatisuk Senamuang finally brought star midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin on in the 65th minute, but it was Singapore who were looking the more likely to get the next goal.
They failed to make their chances count though with Faris Ramli’s dazzling run into the box coming to naught before he fired into the side netting following yet another penetrating Shahril through-ball.
Hassan did well once again with a sprawling save to his right to deny Sarach Yooyen before desperation defending from Hariss and Safuwan foiled Adisak Kraisorn in the box.
That set the stage for Chappuis’ late show, as his cross into the box struck Safuwan’s arm and left the referee with no choice but to point at the spot.
The Thai fan favourite stepped up to take the penalty, driving it low and under Hassan’s dive to send the aways supporters home happy.