Singapore Premier League • April 28, 2014

Rampant White Swans Return To Winning Ways


Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

Albirex Niigata (S) served up the perfect response to their drubbing by Warriors FC in their last match in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League as they returned to winning ways with a 4-2 win over Home United at the Jurong East Stadium in the final match-up of week nine on Sunday evening.

A Kazuki Sakamoto brace coupled with goals from Kazuya Okazaki and Shuhei Hotta gave Albirex a comfortable lead before Home rallied and reduced the deficit through goals by Lee Kwan Woo and Fazrul Nawaz.

In a game which saw Albirex put four past their opponents, the woodwork came to the rescue for both teams on numerous occasions although it was unable to prevent Home from falling to their first defeat in six games in all competitions.

It was end-to-end stuff in the opening exchanges with Home coming close after five minutes when Qiu Li set up Izzdin Shafiq for a shot from 25 yards that swerved just wide.

However, it was Albirex who drew first blood after just ten minutes when Kento Nagasaki crossed low for Sakamoto to have an easy tap-in from close range.

The 2013 RHB Singapore Cup winners tried to muster a response after going behind and nearly found it when Fazrul Nawaz headed just wide off an Ismail Yunos cross before the crossbar denied both Kento Nagasaki and former Albirex star Bruno Castanheira in the space of four minutes.

First, Nagasaki engineered some space for himself before unleashing a powerful shot which beat Shahril Jantan but came off the bar on the half-hour mark before Castanheira similarly saw his deflected shot clip the upright.

In a bid to change things around, Home coach Lee Lim Saeng brought on Indra Sahdan and Yasir Hanapi for Qiu Li and Precious Emuejeraye respectively but that was not enough to prevent Home from falling further behind.

In the 57th minute, Home allowed a long ball to bounce loosely and Okazaki got to the ball first before Shahril in a 50-50 and slotted into an unguarded net to extend the lead for the hosts.

With Home pushing forward in search of a goal, their defence was once again left exposed as Sakamoto made it 3-0. Latching onto a brilliant over-the-top pass from Nagasaki, the forward advanced through on goal before calmly sliding the ball beyond an onrushing Shahril into the far corner.

The contest was effectively over in the 68th minute when Shahril could only parry Sakamoto’s header into the path of an unmarked Hotta and the defender duly tapped home at the back post.

There was however still time for another two goals as Lee Kwan Woo drilled a low shot into Kazuki Kishigami’s bottom corner in the 77th minute while Fazrul headed into an unguarded net from the rebound after his Korean counterpart’s blazing strike came off the underside of the crossbar.