News • April 9, 2016
Kawata’s Hat-Trick Sends White Swans Back To The Top
Written by: Aysha Ridzuan
Atsushi Kawata bagged a hat-trick made up only of headers in Albirex Niigata (S) 3-0 victory against Home United to help his side grab maximum points at Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night.
The victory for the Japanese side saw them return to the top of the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League 2016 table, 24 hours after Tampines Rovers’ 1-0 defeat of Balestier Khalsa had saw the Stags rose to the summit.
After a goalless first-half, the game burst into life two minutes into the second period when Kawata scored his first header from a Hiroyoshi Kamata’s cross before heading in Kento Nagasaki’s corner.
He then sealed the win with another powerful header from a corner in the last minute for his second hat-trick of the season.
Kawata had signalled his intentions just seven minutes into the game when he met Kamata’s cross with a first-time volley, but his shot flashed wide across the goal.
Two minutes later, the Protectors almost opened the scoring against the run of play when captain Juma’at Jantan raced forward to launch a shot from outside the area, but Albirex custodian Yosuke Nozawa did well to save the shot.
The designated hosts threatened again in the 25th minute when Khairul Nizam did well to break free down the right before cutting back the ball to Aqhari Abdullah in the box. However, the latter’s shot was blocked by White Swans defender Kento Fujihara.
Nizam tried his luck again in the 38th minute when he met Zulfahmi Arifin’s corner, but he could only send his header over the crossbar.
The White Swans could have opened the scoring three minutes before the break when Naofumi Tanaka’s low cross across the face of the goal found an unmarked Kawata at the far post, but the latter was unable to get a good touch on the ball.
After Albirex had taken the lead though Kawata in the 47th minute, the Protectors could have pulled level 10 minutes later when Syahiran Miswan found Song Uiyong at the near post, but the Korean slipped as his shot went wide.
Home continued to press forward in search of an equaliser, but were punished again for slack defending when Kawata powered home another header to double Albirex’s lead in the 71st minute.
The Protectors should have reduced the deficit five minutes later when Irfan Fandi, who had just came on for Aqhari Abdullah, fired from close range, but saw Nozawa pushing his shot away.
Albirex then killed the game off a minute from time when Kawata rose the highest to head home Masaya Jitozono’s corner for his and his side’s third goal of the night.
Home United coach Philippe Aw: “We didn’t defend the corners properly. In general, I think performance wise we matched up with Albirex. It is unfortunate to concede from set pieces. It’s very very disappointing to give away the goals, three similar headers.”
“We are disappointed in a way we lost the game. Now we have to pick ourselves up. There’s still many more games to play.”
Albirex Niigata (S) coach Naoki Naruo: “I am very happy with the win. I was confident that Kawata could score goals even if he played as a winger.
“I honestly thought this game would be close game. But, in the second half, my players stepped up and put in a really good performance and score three goals.”
Home United: Zulfairuuz Rudy (GK), Juma’at Jantan (C), Sim Teck Yi, Shahrin Saberin, Sirina Camara, Aqhari Abdullah (Irfan Fandi 59’), Song Uiyong, Syahiran Miswan (Amir Zalani 74’), Zulfahmi Arifin, Khairul Nizam (Azhar Sairudin 83’), Ken Ilso
Albirex Niigata FC (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK) (C), Mukiya Yamada, Kento Fujihara, Atsushi Shirota, Naofumi Tanaka, Rui Kamada (Kazuki Mine 64’), Shuto Inaba, Kento Nagasaki, Daichi Ishimaya, Atsushi Kawata, Hiroyoshi Kamata (Masaya Jitozono 53’)