Singapore: A hattrick from defender Safuwan Baharudin helped Singapore to a comfortable 6-1 win over Timor-Leste to keep alive their hopes of progressing from Group B.

Before the game Singapore coach Fandi Ahmad declared he wanted his side to smash four goals past their opponents, but not even he would’ve expected that his side would do that by half time.

It was a first half blitz from the Lions that started in the 12th minute when Safuwan headed home at the back post. However, a lightning quick attack just a minute later from the visitors caught the Singaporeans off guard and Rufino Gama was able to tap home an easy goal to make it 1-1.

Far from retreating into their shell, the home side continued to attack and push numbers forward and Safuwan had his second inside 20 minutes when he was on the spot to stroke home the rebound after Ikhsan Fandi’s free kick was spilled by Aderito Fernandes.

Right on the half hour mark Ikhsan got on the scoresheet for himself, prodding home from close range, but it was his second goal just before half time that had everyone off their seat.

The Timorese defence failed to clear a Singapore free kick from out wide, with Safuwan heading the ball back across goal where Ikhsan connected with a stunning bicycle kick to make it 4-1 at half time for the home side.

The visitors did well to stop the bleeding for most of the second half, with Singapore’s swashbuckling play from the first half not repeated in the first 30 minutes of the second half as Fandi cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines, knowing goal difference will be crucial to his side’s hopes of advancing.

But in the final 15 minutes his side turned on the after burners, torching the Timorese side as they created chance after chance after chance, with Nazrul Nazari hitting the post and Shakir Hamzah going close on a couple of occasions, while Aderito made a fabulous save to deny Faril Ramli.

Just as it looked like Singapore couldn’t buy a goal, they finished with two in the final two minutes as Ramli and Safuwan both scored headers in the dying minutes to secure the thumping win.

Singapore now travel to Bangkok to face Thailand knowing they need a win to have any chance of progressing to the knockout rounds, while Timor-Leste’s campaign has come to an end.