Ruthless White Swans Put Five Past Eagles
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Defending champions Albirex Niigata (S) continued their fine form at home as they romped to a 5-0 win over Geylang International at Jurong East Stadium in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League on Saturday night.
The result meant the White Swans have not dropped a single point at their home ground in 23 matches as they also pulled nine points clear at the top, albeit having played two games more than nearest challengers Tampines Rovers.
It was all-Albirex from the get go as they went ahead after six minutes through Shoichiro Sakamoto who swept home the rebound after Syazwan Buhari could only parry Takuya Akiyama’s toepoke into his path.
The visitors could have leveled matters almost immediately at the other end but Victor Coto’s header was well-saved by Yosuke Nozawa.
It then became 2-0 in the 15th minute with Ryuya Motoda thumping home a left-footed finish into the bottom corner after the Geylang defence failed to clear their lines from a right-wing cross.
Kento Nagasaki made it three goals to the good for the hosts in the 31st minute as he took down a long ball before firing past a hapless Syazwan.
The Eagles tried to muster a response and came close five minutes later but Ricardo Sendra saw his half-volley sail narrowly over the bar.
Things however got from bad to worse for Noor Ali’s side just before half-time as they were reduced to ten men after skipper Al-Qaasimy Rahman hauled down Naofumi Tanaka in the box and was sent off for a second bookable offence.
The ensuing penalty was converted by Motoda for his second of the night as Albirex took a comfortable cushion into the break.
Kazuaki Yoshinaga’s side continued from where they left off after the restart, as Sakamoto’s powerful shot was parried by Syazwan in the 57th minute.
But there was no denying the White Swans who went five up through Tsubasa Sano moments later. Latching onto a through pass, the 22-year-old calmly slotted past an onrushing Syazwan for his 18th league goal.
Geylang did have their chances thereafter though, as Shawal Anuar’s cross-shot was kept out by Nozawa at his near post before Anders Aplin volleyed over from the ensuing corner.
Sakamoto almost added to his tally at the other end in the 61st minute but was denied by Syazwan at full-stretch before Coto’s snapshot flew straight into the arms of Nozawa eleven minutes later.
There were a couple of chances for Albirex to increase their lead in the closing stages of the game but it mattered little as they hung on for their 13th league win.
With the defeat, Geylang remain in fifth on 21 points, seven behind Warriors FC after 15 matches played.
Albirex Niigata (S) Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga: "We didn't play that well today and some of my players showed that they were still feeling the effects of a hectic July even after a three-day break.
“This game was however good in terms of preparation before our next three games against Tampines and it’s a chance for us to reflect on what we need to do and come up with something.
“Although we are nine points clear, we are concentrating on our own team and we hope to win the next game because we cannot control the other teams.”
Geylang International Head Coach Noor Ali: “The first 30 mins killed off the game for us and I thought it was all over for us in the first-half. Our marking was not good enough for the first two goals we conceded.
"We wanted to come here and hold on as long as possible. It didn’t happen but let’s not forget, it’s not easy playing Albirex who are playing at home and are good at keeping possession.
“The only positive from this game was that we came out and played the football that we wanted to play. We didn’t sit back and prevent Albirex from scoring more but instead, we tried to create chances of our own. I still have nine games to go and there’s still the chance for us to move further up the standings.”
Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK), Hiroyoshi Kamata, Yasutaka Yanagi, Takuya Akiyama, Naofumi Tanaka, Shoichiro Sakamoto (Yuuki Yamanouchi 63’), Shuto Inaba (C), Rui Kumada, Ryuya Motoda, Kento Nagasaki (Ryota Nakai 67’), Tsubasa Sano (Koki Sato 76’) Geylang International:
Syazwan Buhari (GK), Amy Recha (Asshukrie Wahid 82'), Al-Qaasimy Rahman (C), Yuki Ichikawa, Anders Aplin, Shawal Anuar, Safirul Sulaiman (Justin Sim 89’), Ricardo Sendra, Victor Coto, Shahfiq Ghani (Noor Ariff 46’), Gabriel Quak