Singapore Premier League • April 5, 2014
Sakamoto Winner Leave Jaguars Licking Wounds
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Albirex Niigata (S) came back from a goal down to earn all three points as they beat Tanjong Pagar United 2-1 at Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night.
Substitute Kazuki Sakamoto was the man of the moment as his strike seven minutes from time sealed the win for the White Swans after Shuhei Hotta cancelled out Soichiro Tanaka’s own goal.
Within minutes of coming on, Kazuki pounced on the Jaguars’ lapse in concentration at the back before hitting a dipping effort which sailed over a stranded Aurelien Herisson for his fifth goal of the season.
In an uneventful first-half, it was Albirex who looked likelier to score while Tanjong Pagar struggled to get headway going forward.
Albirex were first to threaten barely a minute in when Keisuke Ota latched onto a half-clearance outside the box and hit a half-volley just wide.
Sixteen minutes had elapsed before the next chance came and this time Koki Akasaka came even closer as his effort flew just past the upright with a rooted Herisson looking on.
Tanjong Pagar conjured their first chance of the game with Tengku Mushadad firing a harmless shot wide in the 20th minute before Kento Nagasaki curled one straight into the gloves of Herisson minutes later.
Ota then glanced a header wide on 33 minutes before Firdaus Idros mistimed his volley as he tried to connect with an Asraf Rashid cross before half-time.
However, Tanjong Pagar found themselves in front a minute before the hour mark.
In an attempt to head clear Masrezwan Masturi’s deep cross, Tanaka inadvertently sent his header past his own goalkeeper Kenjiro Ogino to put the Jaguars in front.
Nagasaki nearly levelled things immediately after falling behind but saw his low shot go just wide before firing another straight at Herisson.
Albirex’s persistence eventually paid off thirteen minutes from time when Hotta rose highest to meet Kazuya Okazaki’s corner to level matters.
Okazaki nearly turned from provider to scorer one minute later as he forced Herisson to tip his fierce left-footed drive onto the post.
The comeback was complete seven minutes from time as Sakamoto then came off the bench to strike the winner.
Despite having to withstand strong pressure from Tanjong Pagar who pushed numbers forward in the closing stages, Albirex held on for the win which pushed them to fourth in the league.