Albirex Niigata FC (S) opened a 17-point lead with a 3-0 victory over Geylang International in the Singapore Premier League on Sunday.
Albirex Niigata FC (S) continued their winning ways in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) by beating Geylang International FC 3-0 at Bedok Stadium on Sunday evening.
Shuhei Sasahara, Wataru Murofushi and Hiroyoshi Kamata all found the back of the net as Albirex clinched their 13th successive win.
Despite going up against second-from-bottom Geylang, Albirex looked vulnerable in the opening stages of the game.
The hosts definitely enjoyed a better start and Shawal Anuar was unlucky not to tuck the ball away after slaloming his way into the box in the ninth minute.
In the 17th minute, Afiq Yunos came close to scoring a debut goal with a smart header off Fumiya Kogure’s corner, but Yohsuke Nozawa was equal to the task.
Against the run of play, Albirex then took the lead in the 27th minute. Geylang will rue their woeful marking of Sasahara, who was allowed to nod in Kenya Takahashi’s corner uncontested.
Geylang continued to plough away upfront but found Nozawa in imperious form. The custodian stood firm to hold Kogure’s shot from range in the 35th minute and went one better in the 43rd minute, tipping the latter’s 25-yard free-kick onto the bar.
Half-time soon came, but not before Kamata tested Zainol Gulam with a shot from outside the box.
The White Swans duly improved in the second half, and they doubled their lead two minutes after the restart, with Murofushi producing a sublime finish off Ryujiro Yamanaka’s lay-on.
The Eagles could have pulled one back in the 57th minute after Shawal ran onto Darren Teh’s pass and tried his luck from an acute angle, but Nozawa parried away his fierce drive.
Albirex capitalised immediately, surging ahead with another goal as Kamata was in position to nod in from close range to make it 3-0 in the 58th minute.
Shuhei Hoshino and Taku Morinaga both came close next, Hoshino stabbing just wide in the 69th minute while the latter forced Zainol into a save two minutes later.
It should have been 4-0 in the 78th minute, when Morinaga latched onto a long ball and only had Zainol to beat but he shot straight at the goalkeeper when it was easier to score.
Towards the end, Geylang threatened to score a consolation goal through Shawal, whose burst of pace nearly took him through on goal but Kamata committed into a tackle which nearly sent the ball past his goalkeeper.
Albirex enjoyed a few more attempts on goal, but those misses proved inconsequential when full time came as they extended their lead at the top of the table to 17 points.
Both teams will play again on 4 July, with Geylang travelling to Jalan Besar Stadium to take on Young Lions while Albirex will take on Hougang United FC at Hougang Stadium.
Albirex Niigata FC (S) Head Coach Yoshinaga Kazuaki: “Probably my players need to play more simple, they tried to complicate things too much. But on a difficult away ground, we didn’t concede any goals. I am happy with the clean sheet and I hope we take that into the next game. Geylang are a good team and they played well. I am not surprised by their performance.They do have their own weapons but we did our studies and were prepared for them.”
Geylang International FC Defender Jufri Taha: “We missed a few chances and created problems for them but we didn’t carry that into the second half. We started slower in the second half but we had to play catch up. That said, we gave them a good fight. It is disappointing for us, and the whole league. Albirex are not that good but they won out in terms of tactical awareness. We need to buck up.”
Geylang International: Zainol Gulam (GK), Jufri Taha, Darren Teh (Ryson Yap 74’), Fuad Ramli, Fumiya Kogure, Yeo Hai Ngee (Zulfadli Zainal Abidin 46’), Danish Irfan, Afiq Yunos, Shawal Anuar, Fairoz Hasan (Azhar Sairudin 58’), Yuki Ichikawa (C)
Albirex Niigata FC (S): Yohsuke Nozawa (GK), Shuhei Sasahara, Kaishu Yamazaki, Daiki Asaoka, Riku Moriyasu, Wataru Murofushi (C), Shuhei Hoshino, Kenya Takahashi, Hiroyoshi Kamata, Taku Morinaga (Adam Swandi 80’), Ryujiro Yamanaka