Super Sano fires Albirex back to the top
|ALBIREX NIIGATA||HOUGANG UNITED|
Albirex Niigata regained top spot of the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League after a hard-fought 2-0 win over Hougang United at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night.
The White Swans had striker Tsubasa Sano to thank for their victory, as his brace in the 56th and 88th minutes broke down the Cheetahs' stubborn resistance.
"Hougang were defensive and they didn't really attack us," said Albirex coach Yoshinaga Kazuaki after the match.
"The first half was difficult and we couldn't break through.
"We made some adjustments in the second half and we were able to penetrate and score two goals."
With the win, the White Swans took their clean-sheet tally to three in five S.League games.
Initially, the White Swans could not find a way past the Hougang defence as the three-man backline of Atsushi Shirota, Ali Hudzaifi and Lionel Tan stood firm.
Hougang goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid was also in fine form, as he blocked Ryota Nakai's left-footed attempt at goal before denying Albirex captain Shuto Inaba's long-range effort.
But Albirex stepped up the pressure in the second half and their efforts paid off in the 56th minute when Sano headed in Inaba's well-placed cross.
The Cheetahs' only notable chance came in the form of a weak left-footed attempt from Fumiya Kogure in the 80th minute.
Sano then made sure of the three points two minutes from time as he neatly converted Hiroyoshi Kamata's through-ball.
Despite the three points which put them clear of second-placed Home United, Kazuaki called for improvement from his charges.
"The players still can play better," he said.
"They have not reached the level that I want them to reach and I want to see (improvement in training and in matches)."
Hougang coach Philippe Aw was disappointed that his team did not create more chances.
"Albirex are a good side and they don't give the ball away easily," said Aw.
"We struggled to create chances today. To get zero points out of a possible nine, it is disappointing."
- Young Lions v Geylang Int'l (7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
- Brunei DPMM v Warriors FC (8.15pm, Bandar Seri Begawan)