Singapore and the Philippines played out an uninspiring 0-0 draw in the opening leg of their AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final on Saturday.
Both teams were in formidable form heading into the encounter, but decided to take a cautious approach in the first leg of the two-legged tie.
The Philippines showed little fight in front of their home crowd and had goalkeeper Eduard Sacapano to thank for keeping the scores tied ahead of Wednesday’s second leg.
Singapore made a bright start to the game and came within a whisker of taking the lead when Sharik Ishak’s header went narrowly wide.
Philippines’ defence was out of sorts but Sacapano was on hand to thwart a number of Singapore’s attacks.
Philippines striker Phil Younghusband, who spent three years in Chelsea’s youth system between 2005 and 2008, barely troubled Izwan Mahbud in the away goal, although he had one shot on target that was easily dealt with.
Singapore kept pushing for the opener, but midfielder Ishak fired wide before Tampines Rovers striker Aleksandar Duric did the same.
Paul Mulders, who plies his trade for Eredivisie outfit ADO Den Haag, had a chance to break the deadlock after 73 minutes, but his free kick sailed over the crossbar.
Shahdan Sulaiman’s corner produced a goal-mouth scramble in the dying minutes, but Singapore failed to capitalise and the game ended goalless.
Singapore will look to take full advantage on home soil in the second leg on Wednesday, as they seek to book a place in the final for the first time since 2007, when they defeated co-hosts Thailand 3-2.