Reigning United Foot-ball League champion Ceres La Salle FC lost to Tampines Rovers FC, 1-2, in the first leg of the 2016 RHB Singapore Cup semifinals held at the Jurong West Stadium on Sunday evening.
Ceres La Salle struggled against Tampines without top scorers Stephan Schrock, Manny Ott and Kevin Ingresso, who were all serving a one-game suspension.
Tampines Rovers took the lead in the early moments of the match after Mustafic Fahrudin found the back of the net in the 12th minute off a free kick.
Ceres La Salle reacted with an offensive as Spanish standout Bienvenido Maranon blasted through their rivals’ defense to level the score, 1-1, in the 17th minute.
Ceres La Salle and Tampines traded blows toward the remainder of the opening half with no additional goal scored until the midgame intermission.
After the break, the Mighty Stags notched a deciding strike courtesy of Sufian Anuar in the 49th minute following a failed clearance by Ceres’ defense.
Ceres was awarded a penalty following a foul on Patrick Reichelt inside the box a minute after the second goal of the Singaporeans.
However, Maranon failed to convert his shot from the spot as Stags’ goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud foiled his strike in the 50th minute.
Problems continued to pile up for the visiting Filipino club as new coach Risto Vidakovic was ejected out of the game in the 80th minute for continuous complaining.
The Busmen launched a series of attempts to shake the back line of Tampines but was unable to pierce through until the end of regulation.
The Filipino squad is now faced with a tough task of scoring a come-from-behind victory against the Singaporean in the second leg of the semifinals on Wednesday at the Jalan Besar Stadium.