Paulo Sergio inspires Brunei DPMM to first-ever S.League title

Brunei DPMM FC were crowned Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League champions on Saturday after cruising to a 4-0 win over Balestier Khalsa at the Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium.

The Bruneian outfit were always in control of proceedings after racing to a three-goal lead by half-time, courtesy of a Paulo Sergio strike and own-goals from Igor Cerina and Yusiskandar Yusop.

From then on, they had no problems in playing out the remainder of the match to seal their first-ever league title, although -- just for good measure -- Rafael Ramazotti popped up to add a fourth with four minutes remaining.

The victory ensured DPMM laid to rest the ghosts of 2012 and 2014, when they were pipped to the title on the final day of the campaign.

Like last year, the odds were in their favour once again, as they entered Saturday's clash holding a two-point lead over Tampines Rovers.

But on this occasion, they never looked like slipping up as they showed plenty of hunger from the opening whistle.

It took them 13 minutes to break the deadlock when Sergio, having found space on the right, curled in a cross that was deflected by Cerina into his own net.

Just five minutes later, the hosts doubled their advantage and Sergio once again proved pivotal, pouncing on a lapse in concentration from the Tigers defence to race through and lift the ball over the onrushing Zaiful Nizam.

Right on the stroke of half-time, the contest was all but over when the Balestier offside trap was beaten once again.

Ramazotti charged towards goal before unselfishly slipping a pass to Sergio and Yusiskandar, in his attempt to make an interception, could only prod the ball into his own net.

Now with a healthy lead in their possession, DPMM had the luxury of sitting back after the break, but they still looked the likelier of the two teams to strike again.

They did spurn a couple of decent openings to give their fans more to cheer about.

But in the 86th minute, Sergio raced down the right and cut the ball back to Ramazotti, who made no mistake with a cool finish, to cap off a memorable evening for his side.

While DPMM coach Steve Kean admitted he would have liked to have sealed the title earlier, he insisted he had no qualms with the way they ultimately accomplished it.

"We should have probably finished it before tonight," he said. "But I've said it many times that if we had to bring it to the final day of the season and win it in front of our own fans, I would have taken it.

"In the end, to win 4-0 along with a clean sheet to bring the trophy back here is just fantastic."

DPMM are the second foreign team to win the S.League, after Etoile FC managed the feat in 2010.

Brunei DPMM FC: Wardun Yussof, Helmi Zambin, Boris Raspudic, Brian McLean, Sairol Sahari (Azwan Saleh 81'), Rosmin Kamis, Maududi Hilmi (Aminuddin Zakwan 87'), Joe Gamble, Paulo Sergio (Hendra Azam 90'), Azwan Ali, Rafael Ramazotti

Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam, Hanafi Salleh, Emir Lotinac, Igor Cerina, Yusiskandar Yusop, Zulkiffli Hassim (Hazzuwan Halim 60'), Ridwan Jamil (Poh Yi Feng 58'), Tarik Cmajcanin, Ignatius Ang (Fadhil Noh 61'), Miroslav Kristic, Robert Pericic