Singapore Premier League • June 19, 2014

Nagasaki And Ota Fire Albirex To Fifth


Written by: Muhammad Yazid

Albirex Niigata (S) ensured that they remained in the race for the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League title as they edged Tanjong Pagar United 2-1  at Queenstown Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Kento Nagasaki and Keisuke Ota got their names on the scoresheet for Albirex, before substitute Monsef Zerka pulled one back late on to make for a nervy ending to the game.

The Japanese side are now level on points with fourth-placed Home United and a point behind the Warriors and the Stags, but still remain five behind league leaders Brunei DPMM, who beat Courts Young Lions on the same night.

Both the Jaguars and the White Swans were full of hunger coming into the game following their respective 3-0 and 7-1 victories over Young Lions and Woodlands Wellington, but it was the visitors who quickly took control.

With just three minutes on the clock, Nagasaki unleashed a low half-volley from just outside the penalty box that found the bottom corner of the net.

The hosts were keen to respond as quickly and Kamel Ramdani saw his free-kick curl not far wide of the post minutes later.

Tanjong Pagar were making use of the flanks through Sazali Salleh and Firdaus Idros, but Albirex full-backs Soichiro Tanaka and Itsuki Yamada dealt with the duo well, often closing them down to prevent crosses.

The scores could have been levelled on 20 minutes when Masrezwan Masturi was brought down in the penalty box, but Ramdani agonizingly struck the post from the spot to let Albirex off the hook.

Ten minutes before the interval, Tanaka’s cross from the right was met by the head of Kazuki Sakamoto, only for Aurelien Herisson to produce a spectacular save. Another chance went begging for the visiting side when Kazuya Fukuzaki’s finish off Ota’s cross sailed miles over the bar.

Albirex continued their dominance after the restart and finally increased their lead in the 59th minute when Ota’s shot from the edge of the box bulged the top corner of the net.

But the Jaguars refused to throw in the towel just yet, as Ramdani saw his free-kick palmed away by Kazuki Kishigami.

Zerka was introduced to the game and Ahmad Latiff was pushed upfront as coach Patrick Vallee went for broke, but Kishigami had other ideas as he pulled off two saves to deny Zerka’s header and Latiff’s volley.

The Albirex goal was eventually breached In the 83rd minute when Zerka fired home a penalty, but it was too little too late as Tanjong Pagar saw their two-game winning run come to an end.