Singapore have seen off a lively Timor-Leste side 2-0 at the National Stadium to remain in second place in the Group A standings ahead of a crucial final round showdown with Thailand this weekend.

A win for the Thais over the Philippines earlier in the evening had assured that the Lions would reach the semi-finals and they went on to pick up a third consecutive win at the tournament, the first time they’ve achieved that feet in almost 13 years.

Goals in either half from Adam Swandi and Shakir Hamzah were enough to secure the victory, one that coach Tatsuma Yoshida said showed his team is a challengers, while dismissing suggestions that Singapore should have won by a greater margin.

“We are not Spain, Korea or Japan but the team played their best, if you support Spain then you can ask such things but I trust the team. Of course I’m not satisfied with the performance but I’m proud of the team.”

It was a dream start for Singapore who went ahead in just the fourth minute as a cross from the right was delightfully backheeled by Song Ui-young into the path of Swandi who lasered it home into the far bottom corner for his first international goal.

Timor-Leste came close to grabbing their first goal of the tournament shortly afterwards with their star forwards Mouzinho and Paulo Gali combining as the latter saw his close-range shot saved impressively by Hassan Sunny in the Singapore goal before Hami Syahin blazed wide for the hosts midway through the half.

Junildo, in the visitors' goal, did well to push wide an effort from deep from Hami on the half hour before an unusual stoppage time free-kick saw half a dozen players for the hosts offside as the Lions went to the break with an unconvincing one-goal advantage.

Seven minutes after the restart the hosts blew a huge chance to double their lead as Shawal Anuar slipped a ball through to Ikhsan Fandi, who was clear through on goal but sent his effort onto the bar from the top of the six-yard box before Timor Leste's Yohanes Guismao let fly from midway inside the opposition half with a shot that went wide just shy of the hour.

Mouzinho pushed an effort wide on a long counter in the 62nd minute before it was Singapore that doubled their lead as a huge deflection from a Shakir shot flew in off Gali to make it 2-0 in the 70th minute.

Neither team managed to create any chances of note late on as the Timorese campaign ended with four straight defeats. But coach Fabio Maciel described the tournament as one that will lead to a bright future.

“Tonight our oldest player was just 23 and what we did was show that we will keep going and playing our style regardless of the opponent.

“Football is not about always winning but it’s about never giving up and I know that if we had even 10% of the facilities in Timor that they have in Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia then this country will produce so many players.”