Albirex Trounce Tampines To Maintain Unbeaten Streak
Written by: Zaher Wahab
Defending champions Albirex Niigata (S) widened their lead at the summit of the 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League after a convincing 4-1 win over Tampines Rovers at Jurong West Stadium on Sunday.
Initially, a solitary goal from Naofumi Tanaka in the 28th minute separated the two sides in the first-half, despite much pressure from the Stags.
However, the tide began to turn after Shakir Hamzah brought down Tsubasa Sano in the penalty box just after the interval. The White Swans forward converted the ensuing penalty to double the lead for Albirex in the 47th minute.
Already on a yellow card, Shakir was again in the spotlight after he was sent for an early showers for an off the ball incident in the 63rd minute.
Despite being a man down, the Stags pressed forward and were rewarded with a 71st minute goal by Son Yong Chan, who had followed up on a rebound from Daniel Bennett’s earlier shot inside the penalty box.
Tampines seemed rejuvenated and continued to search for the elusive equalizer, with the introduction of Ivan Dzoni in the 75th minute.
The hosts began throwing numbers forward but despite their best attempt, they were denied on several occasions by the White Swans custodian Yosuke Nozawan.
Any hope of a comeback was extinguished 12 minutes from time as Sano added a third goal for the visitors. Sano went on an adventurous solo run against the Tampines defence before slotting the ball home to the bottom corner in the 78th minute.
Despite holding on to a two-goal advantage, Albirex were still hungry for more as they found a fourth goal deep into second-half injury time.
Tanaka was allowed space near the edge of the box and the defensive player sent a low driven shot past the hapless Joey Sim in goal for the Stags.
With the results, the White Swans remained at the top of the league standings on 25 points while Jurgen Raab’s charges dropped to third spot on 18 points. Home United leapfrogged Tampines to second position following their 2-1 win over Garena Young Lions on the same night.
Tampines Rovers Head Coach Jurgen Raab: “Football is very hard but I think [the game] was open for a long time but Albirex was very effective, with their lead. The penalty and the red card from Shakir changed the game. We tried to make a draw but we made mistakes.
There was a provocation from the [Albirex] player but the reaction from Shakir, was wrong. Shakir has punished the team and he must learn and for this, he will pay a fine. He must learn and improve. He must manage his emotions and think what is important for the team. It [the S League title chase] is not over yet. “
Albirex Niigata (S) Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga: “This is a top of the table clash and before the game we were excited and nervous but we are happy with the win. Towards the middle of the game, we lost our rhythm but to win by 4 goals, we are happy. Some of the goals were lucky for us but we will concentrate on the next game. The third goal was critical as it killed off the game.
There is no room for complacency for the team. We look at each match separately and see what improvements the team can make. No player on the team should be complacent and we will make sure they will continue to improve. What we can control is our players and not other factors outside of the game."
Tampines Rovers: Joey Sim (GK), Ismadi Mukhtar (Jufri Taha 58’), Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Son Yong Chan, Shahdan Sulaiman, Ryutaro Megumi, Shakir Hamzah, Fazli Ayob, Daniel Bennett, Yasir Hanapi (Zulfadhmi 83’), Khairul Amri (Ivan Dzoni 75’)
Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK), Rui Kumada, Takuya Akiyama, Yasutaka Yanagi, Naofumi Tanaka, Hiroyoshi Kamata, Shuto Inaba (C), Kento Nagasaki, Ryota Nakai (Shoma Kondo 90’), Shoichiro Sakamoto (Ryuya Motoda 79’), Tsubasa Sano