Sano Stars In White Swans Goal Blitz
Written by: Darren Ho
Albirex Niigata (S) restored their five-point lead at the top of the 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League after a convincing 8-0 victory over Garena Young Lions at the Jurong East Stadium on Friday night.
Not to be outdone by Home United’s Faris Ramli four-goal feat a day earlier in their 9-3 win over Brunei DPMM, Tsubasa Sano put on a blazing performance with five goals on the night. Kento Nagasaki netted a brace and Ryota Nakai added his name to the score-sheet.
The defending champions dominated exchanges and were two goals to the good inside nine minutes when Sano and Nagasaki struck in quick succession.
Sano drew first blood for Albirex when he found space to slot home past Hairul Syirhan at his near post before Nagasaki guided a freekick from 20 yards over the wall and into the top left-hand corner.
The shell-shocked Young Lions tried to muster a reply but just could not find a way past the Albirex defence.
The developmental side were then made to pay the price for losing possession in midfield when Nakai was allowed to run through the defence before he fired his shot into the bottom corner despite Hairul getting a fingertip to it.
The visitors immediately knew they had a storm to weather but it got worst just before the interval when Sano netted his second after picking up a teasing cross from his left to finish from close range.
Young Lions Head Coach Richard Tardy then brought on Hafiz Sulaiman for Joshua Pereira and the tide subsided for a while as the match proceeded to half-time.
Hairul was then called into action early in the second-half to keep out Nagasaki’s freekick, before Taufik Suparno was out-muscled by Tomoki Menda at the other end as the young forward strived to get his breakthrough with his pacey run.
The hosts continued to carve open the visiting defence and duly got their fifth of the night when Nagasaki was given space and time to control the ball before placing his shot past two defenders and into the net.
Taufik then tried a speculative effort at goal which took a deflection off the onrushing Yosuke Nozawa before it looped up high and landed perfectly on the foot of substitute Yeo Hai Ngee who scooped the ball into thin air.
Japanese front man Sano eventually sealed his hat-trick on 77 minutes when Inaba played a clever ball to wide man Naofumi Tanaka who release the scampering number nine in the box for a one-touch finish.
Sano then scored another tap-in moments later, as he netted his fourth following a pass from Hiroyoshi Kamata before sealing the victory with a shot from 20 yards out.
Taufik could have gotten a consolation for the Young Lions in injury time but Albirex goalkeeper Nozawa timed his dive to perfection and kept a clean sheet for his side in the process
Albirex Niigata (S) Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga: “While we scored eight goals today, it was important for us to not concede any goals because to be a champion, our defence must be at its top and thankfully our goalkeeper made a penalty save (for a clean sheet).
“I have also analysed the league table of the recently-concluded European leagues and found that the championship winners usually have a goal conceded ratio of 0.8 goals per game, while scoring an average 2.5 goals a game. So this is the target I have for my team to become champions.”
Garena Young Lions Head Coach Richard Tardy: “Congratulations to Albirex because they played like a professional team with seriousness from the beginning to the end. They respected their opponent and that is a good point they show to my players.
“I look for results and I was not too pleased with some of the attitude of our players although I hope it was a good lesson for the future as we target qualification for the final of the SEA Games.”
Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK), Tomoki Menda, Takuya Akiyama, Yasutaka Yanagi, Rui Kumada (Shoichiro Sakamoto 59’), Naofumi Tanaka, Shuto Inaba (C), Ryota Nakai, Kento Nagasaki, Hiroyoshi Kamata (Kenya Kodama 88’), Tsubasa Sano
Garena Young Lions: Hairul Syirhan (GK), Rusyaidi Salime, Amirul Adli, Faizal Roslan, Shahrin Saberin (C), Joshua Pereira (Hafiz Sulaiman 38’), Syahrul Sazali, Hami Syahin (Yeo Hai Ngee 71’), Muhaimin Suhaimi, Haiqal Pashia (Taufiq Muqminin 83’), Taufik Suparno