Singapore Premier League • May 20, 2018

Asaoka stunner maintains Albirex perfect record in seven-goal thriller against Tampines


The midfielder struck a 90th-minute winner to seal a 4-3 win in an enthralling clash. 

Ryujiro Yamanaka celebrates after putting Albirex Niigata FC (S) ahead against Tampines Rovers FC.

SINGAPORE, 20 MAY 2018 – Daiki Asaoka ended Tampines Rovers FC’s resilience with a last-minute screamer from 25 yards as Albirex Niigata (S) FC came out on top in a 4-3 thriller at Our Tampines Hub on Sunday night.

Ryujiro Yamanaka also scored a brace for the White Swans and provided an assist for Shuhei Hoshino, while Fazrul Nawaz, Ryutaro Megumi and Zulfadhmi Suzliman responded in kind for the hosts.

The White Swans drew first blood on eight minutes after Kenya Takahashi pounced onto a loose ball and found Yamanaka, who duly slotted home.

But Tampines refused to back down and instead proceeded to carve out several chances in the first half.

Fazrul was guilty of hitting the ball over from point-blank range in the 12th minute, while Jordan Webb mustered a weak attempt at Yohsuke Nozawa two minutes later, with Megumi the architect of both opportunities.

The bar was rocked in the 16th minute after Asaoka missed an interception and allowed Fazrul in to fire against the woodwork.

The Stags reaped their rewards on 24 minutes as Fazrul made amends for his earlier misses.

Zulfadhmi headed Yasir Hanapi’s cross towards Megumi and after the Japanese winger saw his header pushed away by Nozawa, it fell for Fazrul to convert the rebound.

The striker should have scored again following more good work by Zulfadhmi, who picked him out superbly only for the Singapore international to head over.

But Albirex regained the lead just two minutes after the restart. Allowed to swing in a cross from the left, Yamanaka found Hoshino and the striker headed in his ninth goal of the season.

The pendulum swung back Tampines’ way in the 64th minute as dangerman Megumi timed his run to perfection to latch onto Fazrul’s pass, before dispatching the ball past Nozawa.

Alas, the visitors hit back instantly, with Yamanaka tucking away the rebound after Syazwan Buhari saved Hoshino’s shot to make it 3-2.

Remarkably, Tampines pegged them back again. On 77 minutes, Zulfadhmi curled a beautiful effort that dipped arced past Nozawa and send the home crowd wild.

Megumi then thought he had scored the winner when he cut in and drilled the ball into goal, but the strike was chalked off as Fazrul was ruled to be offside and interfering with play.

That left room for one last twist and it was delivered by Asaoka, who picked up the ball in space and sent a stunning strike past Syazwan to make it 16 consecutive wins in all competitions for the Japanese.

Tampines will face Geylang International FC next in the second Eastern Derby of the season at Bedok Stadium on 27 May while Albirex will return home to Jurong East Stadium to meet Balestier Khalsa FC on the same day.

Tampines Head Coach Juergen Raab: “We have seen a high-class football match and (in) the first ten minutes, I am not sure why we were too nervous (and) we gave them all the possibilities to play. The way they scored the first goal was so easy but afterwards, we came back.

“The team always came back so I must say I am really proud of the way they delivered. It was strange that we scored the fourth goal and (it was disallowed); can the linesman explain to me how he could see from, 50 metres, the offside? In the end, we lost the match and it was hard for the team.”

Albirex Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga: “This is our third game in one week so I was actually very worried about our physical condition, but I am happy that they won today’s match.

“I want to give credit to my players for running their hearts out, even though they were all tired. Adam is carrying a slight knee injury, but he will see a doctor this week. We decided not to risk him because he is a precious asset for Singapore football.”

Tampines: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Madhu Mohana (Afiq Yunos 61’), Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Amirul Adli, Zulfadhmi Suzliman (Shah Shahiran 88’), Ryutaro Megumi, Fazrul Nawaz, Jordan Webb, Shameer Aziq (Faizal Raffi 81’), Daniel Bennett, Yasir Hanapi.
Unused subs: Haikal Hasnol, Ryhan Stewart, Haziq Razzali.

Albirex: Yohsuke Nozawa (GK), Riku Moriyasu, Shuhei Sasahara, Kaishu Yamazaki, Kenya Takahashi, Hiroyoshi Kamata (Ryutaro Shibanoki 81’), Daiki Asaoka, Ryujiro Yamanaka (Kodai Sumikawa 90’+4), Wataru Murofushi (C), Taku Morinaga, Shuhei Hoshino.
Unused subs: Shahul Rayyan, Kazuki Sumiishi, Ryuji Yamauchi, Ibuki Inoue, Taiki Itsukaichi.

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