AFC Cup: Warriors, Balestier stumble at first hurdle
S.League champions Warriors FC fell to a 1-3 defeat to Indonesian Super League runners-up Persipura Jayapura, while Singapore Cup winners Balestier Khalsa's first ever AFC Cup tie ended in a 3-0 defeat to Hong Kong First Division champions Kitchee SC.
Warriors FC 1 Persipura Jayapura 3
Over in Singapore, two quick-fire goals by visitors Persipura after the half-hour mark left the Warriors with a mountain to climb.
Warriors defender Marin Vidosevic had a game to forget, as a moment of hesitation led to Ivorian winger Lancine Kone lashing home a first-time effort past goalkeeper Neezam Aziz.
Four minutes later, it was 2-0 as Persipura captain Boaz Solossa pulled a highlight reel goal out of his hat, swivelling just inside the box and firing home a thunderous volley that dipped under the crossbar.
Things didn't get better after the break, as Vidosevic was caught in possession again in the 58th minute, with Robertino Pugliara unselfishly setting Nelson Alom up for a tap-in.
Impact substitute Andy Ahmad pulled a consolation back for the Warriors six minutes after coming on with a volley that came off the cross bar before deflecting in off stranded Persipura goalkeeper Dede Sulaiman, but it was too little, too late.
Kitchee SC 3 Balestier Khalsa FC 0
Balestier's first taste of continental competition was an unhappy one as they came unstuck against last season's semi-finalists Kitchee SC.
The hosts enjoyed the majority of possession despite a slow start, as Balestier failed to make any of their few chances count.
Kitchee duly opened the scoring in the 20th minute, with midfielder Xu Deshuai slamming a shot into the roof of the net after a poor clearance found him just inside the box.
But it took till the 67th minute before another goal was scored, with a combination of poor finishing, massed defence and good stops from Balestier goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam kept Kitchee at bay.
Spanish striker Juan Beloncoso was denied once again by Zaiful, only for Ngan Lok Fung to pounce on the rebound and beat the goalkeeper's despairing drive from distance.
The visitors' lack of match fitness started to tell, as Kitchee made it 3-0 just seconds before the end of regulation time.
A ball over the top found Jordi Tarres racing into space, with the Spanish forward making no mistake and firing past a furious Zaiful in goal.
Additional reporting from Kenneth Tan. Photo by Weixiang Lim.