All cup runs have to end, either in triumph or anguish. Ceres-La Salle Football Club had their hearts broken as they suffered a 2-3 loss to S.League side Tampines Rovers in the second leg of the 2016 Singapore Cup semi-finals.
Stephan Schrock (45+1′ penalty) and Patrick Reichelt (78′) scored the goals which provided Ceres a glimmer of hope to advance to the finals. However, Hafiz Sujad (57′), Afiq Yunos (105′), and Saifullah Akbar (112′) saw to it that the Rovers would scrape through eventually. Counting the first leg score of 1-2, the Rovers reach the finals with an aggregate score of 3-5.
Picking up from the first leg, Ceres and the Rovers found themselves on equal footing in terms of the run of play once the match kicked off. Reichelt started the game brightly as his volley narrowly missed the Tampines goal. At the other end, Izzdin Shafiq had a sniff at goal which was easily caught by Ceres goalie Louie Casas.
The breakthrough then occurred just before halftime. Reichelt unleashed an attempt at goal which hit the hand of a Rovers player. The referee then pointed to the spot and Schrock made no mistake, putting the ball at the back of the net at the 45+1 minute. Halftime then ensued, with Ceres leading 1-0 in the game, while the tie was leveled at 2-2 in aggregate.
Once the game restarted, Reichelt again seized the initiative for Ceres and found himself through on goal. This time, though, Reichelt failed to put his name on the scoresheet because his shot hit the post. Ceres were unlucky and things got sour minutes later as Sujad scored in the 57th minute to level the score and put the Rovers on the brink of going through.
Fortunately for Ceres, Reichelt had other plans. Jeffrey Christiaens whipped in a quality ball from out wide which was then turned in by Reichelt in the 78th minute. Ceres’ joy, though, was short-lived, as Paul Mulders received his marching orders for a second yellow card.
Ceres just wanted to reach extra time at this point and they were quite lucky to do so after a Jermaine Pennant free kick hit the post and a Sujad shot was masterfully saved by Casas. With the aggregate scored tied at 3-3, the game went into extra time. At this point in the game, the Rovers stepped up the pressure against a vulnerable Ceres, who were now down to nine men after Reichelt walked off injured.
It only took the Rovers a while before they finally got their second goal of the match when Yunos headed the ball into the Ceres net in the 105th minute to put the Rovers one step into the final. The Rovers were on the ascendancy at the break during extra time, and they sealed their ticket to the finals courtesy of Akbar’s tap-in in the 112th minute.
After extra time, the Rovers went through as they had won the match 2-3 and tallied an aggregate score of 3-5. Despite the elimination, Ceres should hold their heads high, as reaching the semi-finals of a tournament at the first time of trying is an achievement in itself. With the 2016 Singapore Cup over, Ceres have a lot of catching up to do if they want to win the 2016 United Football League.