DPMM FC forward Andrei Varankou guided his side a step closer to the coveted AIA Singapore Premier League title after he bagged a hat-trick in a comfortable 3-0 victory against Warriors FC at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas last night.
The Brunei-based outfit need just a point in their last two league fixtures against Tampines Rovers FC next Wednesday and Hougang United on September 28 to seal a second league title.
The Gegar Gegar men could even be confirmed as champions if second-placed Hougang fail to win against Geylang International FC in their tie against Geylang International FC today.
The league title also became a two-way horse race after Tampines Rovers FC slipped out of contention following their 3-3 draw against Balestier Khalsa FC in an earlier kick-off.
DPMM FC captain Wardun Yussof celebrated his 38th birthday with a 10th clean sheet of the season. The goalkeeping custodian will also end the season with the most clean sheets, as he could not be caught by his nearest rival Albirex Niigata (S) goalkeeper Kengo Fukudome.
The hosts cranked up the pressure in the early proceedings as local winger Azwan Ali Rahman tested Warriors FC goalkeeper Shahul Rayyan with a clean strike after he was being played in by Adi Said, who replaced the suspended Abdul Azizi Ali Rahman.
DPMM FC foreign import Andrei Varankou unleashed a speculative shot from distance but a deflection off a Warriors player allowed Shahul to gather the ball without much difficulty.
The visitors made a first real foray into the DPMM FC box as centre back Charlie Clough made an important challenge to deny Gabriel Quak a glimpse of goal.
The Gegar Gegar men had their best chance of the game as Varankou rose for a header after latching onto a fine delivery from Adi but Shahul pulled off an excellent stop to deny the Belarusian.
DPMM FC fullback Awangku Fakharrazi had a premature end midway through the first half after he limped off due to injury as Helmi Zambin entered the fray in a like-to-like change.
Varankou latched onto a fine ball by Azwan Ali before smashing home a fine effort to put his side into the lead for his 17th goal of the season. Local star Azwan showed vision to put Belarusian through on goal as he evoked scenes of his stellar displays from the 2015 season.
DPMM FC forward Adi nearly replicated his goal from the game against Albirex Niigata (S) through a signature free-kick but his effort crashed against the upright before Hendra Azam came up with a snapshot late in the first half.
Varankou, the league’s leading scorer, brilliantly escaped his marker before sliding in for a low finish as Azwan Ali made his second assist of the game.
Adi took out the Warriors defence with a brilliant ball before Azwan Ali unselfishly squared the ball for Varankou. The Warriors back-line managed to retrieve the ball but lost it swiftly in an unforgiving position as Varankou scored with a poacher’s effort.