SINGAPORE (14 June 2017) – Singapore put up a spirited showing but fell short as they were defeated 6-0 by two-time FIFA World Cup winners Argentina in an international friendly at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub on Tuesday evening.
Organised as part of FAS’ 125-year anniversary celebrations, Argentina triumphed via first-half strikes from Federico Fazio and Carlos Correa, and goals in the second period from Alejandro Gomez, Leandro Paredes, Lucas Alario and Angel Di Maria.
Singapore head coach V. Sundram Moorthy made five changes from the side that lost 2-1 to Chinese Taipei in their AFC Asian Cup third-round qualifier three days ago with Faritz Hameed, Zulfahmi Arifin, Nazrul Nazari, Hafiz Sujad, Khariul Nizam all coming into the starting line-up.
It was all Argentina from the get-go but Singapore did well to weather the storm with goalkeeper Hassan Sunny making two vital saves to keep the scores level.
The Home United player had to be alert to first deny Marcos Acuna on four minutes, before making another save off a Correa effort moments later.
Paulo Dybala then went through on goal in the ninth minute but was stopped in his tracks by Lions captain Hariss Harun who put in a vital tackle to prevent the Juventus dangerman from pulling the trigger.
Hassan was then at it again, flying across goal to keep out winger Angel Di Maria’s fierce left-footed effort from 20 yards.
The home side conjured their first chance of the night in the 18th minute when Hariss connected with Zulfahmi’s corner, but the former was unable to divert his header goalward.
There was no denying La Albiceleste as they broke the deadlock in the 25th minute with Fazio turning home Gomez’s corner for the lead.
Six minutes later, the visitors were two goals to the good when Correa ghosted in at the near post to slot Dybala’s cross into the back of the net.
Shakir Hamzah could have pulled one back minutes before the break, but saw his cross-shot fly narrowly over the bar with Nahuel Guzman beaten.
Argentina picked up from where they left off after the break and extended their lead shortly after the hour mark with Gomez firing from outside the area to beat Izwan Mahbud, who had come on for Hassan early in the second half, at his near post.
Minutes after hitting the post, Argentina substitute Paredes made it 4-0 as he curled an unstoppable finish over Izwan.
Two goals in the space of two injury-time minutes then sealed victory for the FIFA world number two team.
Alario latched on to a Dybala knockdown and rifled a powerful shot past Izwan, before Di Maria swept home from close range off a cutback from the right deep into added time.
Speaking after the match, Singapore head coach Sundram said: “Technically, they were superior and more comfortable on the ball.”
“We sat deep, tried to organise but conceded from set-plays. We tried our best but the players were visibly tired towards the end of the match.”
But he believes this was a good ‘learning lesson’ for his charges.
“I was confident we could match Argentina,” Sundram said. “We were playing against the top team in the world but (the players) tried their best. They made it difficult for Argentina in the first-half and the boys competed.”
“I thought Zul(fahmi Arifin) did well in the middle of the park, Hariss was decent and Hassan (Sunny), as usual, can always be counted on while the rest of the players ran their socks off.”