Faris Ramli double for Home United vs. DPMM in Singapore Cup
Home United bounced back from their midweek AFC Cup ASEAN zonal final defeat to Ceres-Negros with a 3-1 comeback victory over Brunei DPMM in the Singapore Cup quarterfinal first leg tie at Jalan Besar Stadium on Sunday night.
Singapore international winger Faris Ramli starred by scoring twice in the last 18 minutes after Juma'at Jantan had levelled matters for Home midway through the second half.
DPMM's Brazilian forward Rafael Ramazotti had opened the scoring to mark his return from injury after an eight-match absence.
Making six changes from the lineup who lost 2-0 to Ceres four days ago, Home were not at their fluid best in the first half and failed to trouble DPMM goalkeeper Awangku Mu'izzuddin.
DPMM looked sharper with Chilean striker Daud Gazale linking up well with the returning Ramazotti, before going off just before half-time due to injury.
Nonetheless, Steve Kean's side managed to open the scoring on the hour mark. A long ball over the top caught out the Home defence, leading to Ramazotti prodding home from close range for his first goal in three months.
It woke Home up from their slumber and they levelled matters on 69 minutes.
A barnstorming run from South Korean playmaker Song Uiyoung took him past three defenders, before he teed up Juma'at to convert into the bottom left corner from six yards out.
Aidil Sharin's side then scored again three minutes later via a superb breakaway.
After Ramazotti's goal-bound header was clawed off the line by Hassan, Faris ran half the length of the field before rounding Mu'izzuddin to tap home into an empty net.
The Protectors comeback was well and truly completed six minutes before the end. Faris was in the right place at the right time to tap home after Iqram Rifqi's free kick had come off the upright.
There is still a second leg to played at Bishan Stadium on Wednesday night, but Home are firm favourites to meet Albirex Niigata (S) in the last four.
The holders cruised through 7-1 on aggregate, after a straightforward 2-0 win against Tampines Rovers at Jurong East Stadium in Sunday night's other Singapore Cup quarterfinal.
First-half goals from Naofumi Tanaka and Ryuya Motoda fired the White Swans to their 24th consecutive win at the venue.
Brunei DPMM: Awangku Mu'izzuddin (GK), Hanif Hamir (Rosmin Kamis 46'), Haizul Rani, Hazwan Hamzah, Vincent Salas, Najib Tarif, Nurikhwan Othman, Azwan Saleh (C), Maududi Hilmi (Shahrazen Said 55'), Daud Gazale (Adi Said 41'), Rafael Ramazotti
Home United: Hassan Sunny (GK, C), Juma'at Jantan, Abdil Qaiyyim, Hariss Harun, Sufianto Salleh, Aqhari Abdullah, Song Uiyoung, Shamil Sharif, Faris Ramli, Christopher van Huizen (Iqram Rifqi 64'), Marijan Suto (Haziq Azman 66')
Kenneth Tan is a Singapore-based football writer on S.League and AFC Cup for ESPN FC and FourFourTwo. Twitter: @KennerveT