Albirex Niigata (S) claim 2018 Community Shield with late winner

Albirex Niigata (S) continue to dominate Singapore football with a 2-1 victory over Tampines Rovers to claim the 2018 Community Shield.

Albirex Niigata (S) made it a hat-trick of Great Eastern Community Shield wins with a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Tampines Rovers in front of a boisterous crowd at the National Stadium on Saturday evening.

Shuhei Hoshi was the hero for the White Swans as he struck a minute before the end to seal three points and lift the 11th edition of the Community Shield, after Fahrudin Mustafic had cancelled out Taku Morinaga’s opener.

It was a scrappy first half with chances at a premium, but it was Albirex who came closest to opening the scoring. After springing the offside trap, Ryujiro Yamanaka dragged his shot wide with only the goalkeeper to beat in the 24th minute.

The Stags meanwhile struggled to carve out any clear openings against a Albirex backline led by Shun Kumagai and Kaishu Yamazaki as lone forward Fazrul Nawaz cut a frustrated figure upfront.

2018 Great Eastern Community Shield: Albirex Niigata (S) 2-1 Tampines Rovers

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The second period was a stark contrast of the first, with Canadian winger Jordan Webb coming on at the break while Adam Swandi was brought on for his Albirex debut on 52 minutes.

The deadlock was broken in the 59th minute when Morinaga made no mistake from the spot after Webb was penalised for handling in the box.

The White Swans were then denied a stonewall penalty in the 65th minute when Morinaga was felled from behind by Irfan Najeeb but referee Muhammad Taqi waved off the appeals.

The tide turned 13 minutes from time as Albirex were left ruing their luck when Mustafic rose highest to meet Yasir Hanapi’s corner with a thumping header past the hapless Yosuke Nozawa.

There was an opportunity for a late winner for Tampines in the closing stages but substitutes Khairul Amri and Webb were unable to make their chances count.

Jurgen Raab’s side were made to pay for their profligacy as Hoshino latched onto Morinaga’s pass in the 90th minute before finishing sweetly into the bottom right corner to break the hearts of the Tampines faithful.

With the match doubling up as a Singapore Premier League fixture, Albirex find themselves perched at the top of the standings and will travel to Toa Payoh Stadium in their next game against Balestier Khalsa on April 8 in confident mood.

Tampines will now have to regroup and look to return to winning ways when they face eastern rivals Geylang International at Our Tampines Hub a day earlier.

Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK), Riku Moriyasu, Shun Kumagai, Kaishu Yamazaki, Kenya Takahashi, Ryujiro Yamanaka (Adam Swandi 52’), Daiki Asaoka, Hiroyoshi Kamata, Wataru Murofushi (C), Taku Morinaga (Kazuki Sumiishi 90’), Shuhei Hoshino

Tampines Rovers: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Irfan Najeeb, Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Daniel Bennett, Irwan Shah, Yasir Hanapi, Amirul Adli, Safirul Sulaiman, Ryutaro Megumi, Zulfadhmi Suzliman (Jordan Webb 46’), Fazrul Nawaz (Khairul Amri 59’)