SINGAPORE - Tatsuma Yoshida's Lions survived a nervy end to score a 2-1 upset of Palestine in their World Cup qualifying match at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday (Sept 10).
The result against the Palestinians, who are 60 places higher in Fifa's world rankings, sent Singapore to the top of Group D. Singapore had opened their campaign with a 2-2 draw with Yemen a week earlier.
As in the draw with Yemen, the Lions started the game at breakneck speed, and scored in the fourth minute after left wing-back Shakir Hamzah was quickest to a loose ball on the edge of the Palestine penalty box, and fired past Rami Hamada for the opening goal.
But the visitors, who had beaten Uzbekistan 2-0 last week in Ramallah, equalised in the 14th minute through Yaser Hamed, who finished from close range after the ball bobbled fortuitously for him in the penalty box.
Singapore defender Safuwan Baharudin, however, restored the Republic's lead six minutes before half-time, rising highest at a corner kick to power a header home.
With the game finely balanced, both sets of players squared off in melees in the dying moments of the match, but the Lions, roared on by 6,011 fans, kept their cool to see out the game and secure an excellent result.
Yemen host Saudi Arabia at midnight (Singapore time) in Riffa, in Group D's other match tonight.