Singapore were brought back down to earth in their 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifying campaign after blowing a lead to suffer a shock 2-1 defeat to Chinese Taipei at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night.
The setback comes after Singapore's encouraging opening away draw in the Group E qualifier against Bahrain on March 28.
Hariss Harun had put the Lions ahead in the sixth minute. But the visitors came from behind via goals from Belgian-born Xavier Chen and Chen Chao-An to pick up an unlikely three points.
Singapore got off to the best possible start from a set piece. Shahdan Sulaiman played the perfect outswinging corner for Hariss to power home a header past Chiu Yu-Hung into the top left corner.
Chinese Taipei refused to be cowered though, as they started to get their act together, and should have scored on 26 minutes.
Yaki Yen's volley looked destined for the bottom right corner after Chen's half-cleared free kick. But Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny produced a stunning save to tip the effort around for a corner.
However, the visitors got a deserved equaliser just four minutes later through Chen. He thumped home a clean volley from the edge of the box after Chen Hao-Wei's free kick had come off the Singapore wall.
Chinese Taipei carried where they left off after the break by scoring their second goal right on the hour mark.
A Singapore defensive mix-up from Chen Po-Liang's left-wing cross led to Chao-An nodding home into an empty net to put the visitors ahead.
The Lions then threw numbers forward in search of the equaliser. They went close on 69 minutes when substitute Hafiz Sujad fired straight at Yu-Hung from inside the box after Safuwan Baharudin had knocked down Shakir Hamzah's cross into his path.
Singapore coach V. Sundramoorthy introduced Nazrul Nazari and Khairul Nizam into the fray for the final 15 minutes as they threw the proverbial kitchen sink at their opponents.
Nizam should have scored in the 83rd minute, but slipped at the crucial moment when he was teed up by Hariss in the box.
Centre-back Irfan Fandi was also sent forward in the dying moments. But Singapore just could not get past a stout Chinese Taipei defence to fall to a costly defeat.
Singapore will face Argentina in a friendly at the National Stadium on Tuesday. But their next Asian Cup qualifier will be at home to Turkmenistan on Sep. 5
Singapore: Hassan Sunny (GK), Madhu Mohana, Irfan Fandi, Daniel Bennett, Shakir Hamzah, Hariss Harun (C), Izzdin Shafiq, Shahdan Sulaiman (Nazrul Nazari 75'), Yasir Hanapi (Khairul Nizam 79'), Faris Ramli (Hafiz Sujad 50'), Safuwan Baharudin
Chinese Taipei: Chiu Yu-Hung (GK), Xavier Chen, Yaki Yen, Chen Yi-Wei (C), Chen Ting-Yang, Hung Tzu-Kuei, Chen Chao-An (Wu Chun-Ching 73'), Chen Po-Liang, Wen Chih-Hao, Chen Hao-Wei (Li Mao 90'), Chu En-Le