Singapore Premier League • June 6, 2014
Moura Heads Hougang To Victory
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Albirex Niigata (S) missed the opportunity to move up to third in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League standings as they fell 1-0 to Hougang United at Jurong East Stadium on Thursday evening.
Geison Moura netted the only goal of the match for the Cheetahs as they bounced back from their RHB Singapore Cup defeat to Tanjong Pagar United with a hard-fought victory here.
Chances were at a premium in the first-half as both teams kept things tight and were determined not to concede first.
However, it was Hougang who ultimately succeeded as they managed to keep their first clean sheet of the season. Defender Igor Cerina in particular, was immense at the back as he marshalled the backline well and kept Albirex forward Kazuki Sakamoto in check.
The game got off to a slow start as Moura and Albirex’s Kento Fujihara both had chances in the opening four minutes but they were either blocked or went wide.
Fazli Jaffar then saw his freekick find the side-netting in the 13th minute before Itsuki Yamada’s freekick flew inches wide of the post.
Diego Gama had the final opportunity of a tepid first-half on 36 minutes as he twisted and turned on the edge of the area but his effort trickled just wide.
It was the Cheetahs however who got their noses in front five minutes after the restart through Moura and that was enough to hand them all three points.
Managing to keep the ball in play, Nurhilmi Jasni cut it back to Gama at the byline. The Brazilian then displayed good strength to fend off his marker before floating a ball across for compatriot Moura to head past Kazuki Kishigami for his tenth of the season.
Buoyed by the opener, Fazli almost made it 2-0 four minutes after the opener but he flashed a low shot across the face of goal.
The tide then started to swing in favour of the White Swans as they created a number of chances to pull level but failed to make them count.
In the 75th minute, Sakamoto laid the ball off for Yamada just inside the penalty area but the Albirex left-back and skipper could not keep his shot down.
Fadhil then came to Hougang’s rescue two minutes later as he brilliantly kept out Fujihara’s fierce drive with his legs after Yamada’s low cross had evaded everyone in the box.
Try as they might, but Albirex just could not find the elusive equaliser as Hougang clung on for the win to stay in sixth and pull four points clear of nearest challengers Balestier Khalsa.