Albirex make it 10 wins in a row
Albirex extend winning run as they restore seven-point lead at the top
ALBIREX NIIGATA 5
(Tatsuro Inui 2, 45 Atsushi Kawata 58 Kento Nagasaki 86, 88)
HOME UNITED 2
(Ken Ilso 78, Khairul Nizam 81)
Their last defeat was in March when they fell 2-0 to Warriors FC.
Since that setback, Albirex Niigata have been firing on all cylinders, churning out win after win as they embarked on a nine-game winning streak in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League.
The White Swans added another victory last night when they smacked Home United 5-2 at the Jurong East Stadium.
Playmaker Tatsuro Inui has been a pivotal figure for Albirex during their barnstorming run and he was the star of the show again last night, scoring a brace.
While Albirex coach Naruki Naruo paid tribute to Inui after the match, he preferred to focus on the performance of the team rather than their winning run.
The 41-year-old Japanese said: "Inui is someone who has the ability to score important goals for us and that is something that has definitely helped us this season.
"His first goal today helped to get us started.
"But the team as a whole played well today and our next opponents will be Tampines (Rovers). After that match, then I will think about the streak."
The Japanese side went on the offensive from the first whistle and were rewarded after just two minutes through Inui's wonder strike.
The Home defence failed to clear their lines following an Albirex corner and the ball fell to Inui who bent a superb curling shot from 25 metres beyond the grasp of Home goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Juma'at.
The Protectors came close to grabbing an equaliser in the 17th minute when Syahiran Miswan released winger Faris Ramli with an inch-perfect cross-field ball, but the Singapore international wasted the chance.
The visitors had another chance in the 26th minute when French midfielder Ambroise Begue delivered an inviting cross into the Albirex penalty box but Faris failed to connect with it.
A minute later, Home were lucky not to find themselves two goals down after the league's top scorer, Atsushi Kawata, dispossessed Song Ui Yong just outside the penalty box before unleashing a ferocious shot that was denied brilliantly by Hyrulnizam.
Inui had a chance to get his second goal in the 39th minute after he capitalised on a mix-up between Azhar Sairudin and Shahrin Saberin but his fierce drive was turned around the post by Hyrulnizam.
However, there was no denying Inui on the stroke of half-time.
Hyrulnizam, who made a number of key saves earlier, botched a routine clearance by sending the ball straight at Kawata who teed up Inui.
Albirex continued their dominance in the second half and got their third goal of the night in the 58th minute when Kawata's rasping effort took a deflection off Shahrin before sailing past substitute goalkeeper Zulfairuz Rudy.
They had a chance to make it four in the 69th minute when substitute Masaya Jitozono put Kawata through on goal but the striker only managed to fire wide with just the goalkeeper to beat.
Home then produced a stunning fightback through Ken Ilso's penalty in the 78th minute and substitute Khairul Nizam three minutes later.
But it proved futile as Albirex put the icing on the victory with two late goals from Kento Nagasaki.
Home assistant coach Robin Chitrakar said: "The boys fought very hard and tried their best to come back from 3-0 down. We scored two goals, but they managed to score goals from the counter-attack.
"I think today's match showed that we can compete against Albirex, but we paid the price for lapses in concentration towards the end of the match.
"It will be difficult to stop Albirex (from winning the title), but it is not impossible."
- Albirex Niigata: Yosuke Nozawa, Mikiya Yamada, Atsushi Shirota, Kento Fujihara, Tomoki Menda, Shuto Inaba, Kento Nagasaki, Naofumi Tanaka, Tatsuro Inui (Daichi Ishiyama 83), Hiroyoshi Kamata (Masaya Jitozono 61), Atsushi Kawata (Kazuki Mine 90).
- Home United: Hyrulnizam Juma'at (Zulfairuz Rudy 46), Shamil Sharif, Abdil Qaiyyim, Shahrin Saberin (Sim Teck Yi 71), Zulfahmi Arifin, Faris Ramli, Song Ui Yong, Syahiran Miswan (Khairul Nizam 57) , Ambroise Begue, Azhar Sairudin, Ken Ilso.
TNP Man of the Match:
Tatsuro Inui (Albirex Niigata)
- Geylang International 1 Hougang United 2