Albirex cruise as Hoshino puts Fandi Ahmad’s Young Lions to the sword

Albirex Niigata FC (S) cruised to a 3-1 win over Young Lions on the back of a Shuhei Hoshino brace in the Singapore Premier League on Wednesday night.

Shuhei Hoshino continued his red-hot form in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) with a brace to help champions Albirex Niigata (S) FC sink Young Lions 3-1 at Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday night and ensured they go 14 points clear at the top.

Just like their previous game, Hoshino scored twice in each half to ensure Albirex go two goals up. Substitute Kodai Sumikawa scored a third for Kazuaki Yoshinaga’s side before Naufal Azman scored a late consolation goal for the Young Lions.

Fandi Ahmad’s side were bidding to beat Albirex for the first time at their home ground since 2010, but their hopes of an upset evaporated after just eight minutes.

With Young Lions Captain Taufiq Muqminin adjudged to have handled Kenya Takahashi’s free-kick in the area, Hoshino stepped up to send Zharfan Rohaizad the wrong way to put Albirex 1-0 up.

Albirex dominated possession for the rest of the half, but the Young Lions defence stood firm and limited them to a few stray long shots.

The Young Lions gradually woke up from their slumber and produced their first shot of the game on 40 minutes, with Hami Syahin curling wide a left-footed effort from the edge of the box.

Albirex came out in the second half with renewed vigour as Adam Swandi – playing in central midfield instead of his usual left-wing position – headed inches off-target from Riku Moriyasu’s deep cross on 47 minutes.

The White Swans would double their advantage two minutes later, with Hiroyoshi Kamata – wearing the armband in the absence of rested Captain Wataru Murofoshi – swinging in a perfect cross for Hoshino to flick home with the back of his head for his eighth goal of the season.

That ensured he leapfrogged Brunei DPMM FC’s Volodymyr Priyomov to go top of the SPL scoring charts.

Fandi reacted with an attacking change by bringing on Ikhsan Fandi for defensive midfielder R Aaravin, but the Young Lions continued to struggle in the attacking third.

Albirex would eventually find a third in the dying stages of the game, with Sumikawa scoring a superb grass-cutter from the edge of the box with his first touch of the game after coming on for Ryujiro Yamanaka.

Young Lions would finally score one late on with Naufal firing in from a tight angle, but it was too little too late as they remained in sixth with seven points from five games.

They will next go away to face Hougang United FC on Saturday, while Albirex will try to end Tampines Rovers FC’s nine-game unbeaten streak at Our Tampines Hub a night later.

Young Lions Head Coach Fandi Ahmad: “I’m obviously very disappointed with the performance and the concentration wasn’t the best. We didn’t pick up the running man (for the second goal) and there was some loose marking.

“For the first goal, I don’t think it was a penalty and I don’t know how it (the decision) came from. Before that, the guy (Hoshino) pushed our guy (Taufiq) so I’m not really sure. But Albirex are very smart, any push they’ll shout and the ref reacts. This is the first time I’m complaining, but we need a better ref.

“The game plan didn’t work out for us but I’m happy with the commitment of my players. It’s good that Naufal scored in the end. We’re trying to bring in a lot of youngsters and give them more exposure this season. “

Albirex Niigata FC (S) Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga: “With these being the second of three games in a week, it was probably a bit tough for us and the performance wasn’t so good but we managed to get the win. We needed to make some adjustments (due to the tight schedule) so some players were playing in new positions. They can learn more from this experience, use their intelligence a bit more and break down the opponents.

“We told Adam in the second half that if he has the chance, he should go to the wings and cut back the ball. It was just nice Kodai was there to score from his beautiful pass. As for (Taku) Morinaga, he has gotten into good goalscoring positions but not been able to put them away; we’ll give him advice and put it right in training.”

Young Lions:  Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Aniq Iskandar (Amer Hakeem 46’), Taufiq Muqminin (C) (Nazhiim Harman 66’), Irfan Fandi, Syahrul Sazali, R. Aaravin (Ikhsan Fandi 55’), Joshua Pereira, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Hami Syahin,  Rusyaidi Salime, Naufal Azman

Albirex Niigata FC (S): Yohsuke Nozawa (GK), Riku Moriyasu, Shuhei Sasahara, Kaishu Yamazaki, Kenya Takahashi, Hiroyoshi Kamata (C), Daiki Asaoka, Adam Swandi, Ryujiro Yamanaka (Kodai Sumikawa 90’), Taku Morinaga (Ibuki Inoue 88’), Shuhei Hoshino