Jordan Webb 90'
Kunihiro Yamashita 55’, Norihiro Kawakami 90’
Hougang United suffered heartbreak against Albirex Niigata when the Japanese side scored a winner in the last minute of injury time, right after they had equalized in the first minute of injury time.
Both sides came into the game on the sixth and seventh spot in the table with the Cheetahs leading the White Swans by a point. That said, it did not prevent Hougang from adopting a soak-and-strike strategy.
It almost paid off though, as they had the best chance of the first half on the thirty third minute. From a corner, Ante Barac floated in the ball and Hasree Zais’ goalbound header was tipped over brilliantly.
That came after Albirex had the game’s first two chance through Sho Kamimura. The first which came in the third minute was a snapshot that went over the bar after Hasree Zais failed to head the ball away from the danger area.
The second chance came on the thirteen minute mark. Kamimura managed to wriggle away from the towering Stanislav Vidakovic before sending in a shot, but yet again it went over the bar.
The second period though, was a stark contrast to the first. Hougang came out with more intent to attack opening up the game.
Sho Kamimura once again found himself with a chance seven minutes after the restart. His cross shot from the left side of the box though drew an acrobatic save from Hougang’s custodian Fadhil Salim.
Albirex had yet another great chance two minutes later. Leftback Takeshi Ito went on an overlapping run and provided a great cross towards striker Yasuhiro Yamakoshi. Yamakoshi then adjusted his body and had an audacious overhead attempt. The ball though, rocked the cross bar and was cleared out for a corner by Vidakovic.
The Japanese side did not have to wait much longer to break the deadlock though. From the resulting corner, Musashi Okuyama sent in a perfect ball, and it was duly headed in by Kunihiro Yamashita.
From then on, Hougang took over proceedings with Albirex contented to sit back. The Cheetahs were however unable to break down the resilient Albirex defence. A combination of poor final passes and several last ditch tackles managed to deny Hougang time and time again. Sobrie, Barac and Diallo all took shots from the outside the box in an attempt to try find an equalizer but most of the time, they failed to trouble Takuma Ito.
On the last minute of regulation time, Hougang finally got their breakthrough. Diallo was adjudged to be fouled as he was taking a shot from just inside the area and referee Abdul Malik did not hesitate in pointing towards the spot. Up stepped Jordan Webb and the Canadian made no mistakes as he sent Ito the wrong way.
With the Cheetahs in celebratory mood, Albirex found enough to push forward in a bid to try win the game, and they managed to do it in the fourth minute of injury time. Takeshi Ito, impressive with his overlapping runs throughout, sent in a yet another deep cross. Centreback and Captain Norihiro Kawakami made a run into the box and got himself onto the end of the cross, powering a header into the top corner that left Fadhil Salim with no chance making it 2-1 to the away side at full time.
Deserved a point
Despite the loss, Hougang United head coach Nenad Bacina felt his team should have deserved a point. He also felt that the players did well to come back into the game. He said, “I have to congrats my players because we came back into the game, and definitely we deserve one point.”
“We managed to equalize last minute, but we managed to lose in the last second.”
“We have to find a way to deal with the last second because this is the second time we conceded a goal in the last second.”
Bacina also took time to explain about his tactics for the game today. He said, “We are positive about our play. In the first half, we purposely gave them some space on the flank, because we knew that they will try to penetrate through the centre that’s why we give them space on the flank.”
“We wanted to play a counter-attacking game and invite their fullbacks into our half, so we wanted to use the space left on the flank. We didn’t manage to use that a lot of times I have to admit, but still we are happy with the way we played.”
“I’m happy with our performance still.”
Never gave up
Albirex head coach Koichi Sugiyama felt that his team won because they did not gave up. The Japanese said, “Our players, our staffs and our supporters never gave up, and we won. It was a very good game.”
He was however not worried with the fact that it was two defenders who scored the goals.
“It’s one of our strengths that we can score goals from any position, so I’m not surprised that our defenders can score the goals,” he said.
Albirex Niigata(S) will next face Tampines Rovers on 19th April at Jurong East Stadium, while Hougang United will next face Singapore Armed Forces on 22nd April at Choa Chu Kang Stadium.
Hougang United: Fadhil Salim(GK), Hasree Zais (Kharulhayat Jumat 78’) Lau Meng Meng(C), Stanislav Vidakovic, Ante Barac, Azhar Sairudin, Jordan Webb, Fazli Jaffar, Mamadou Diallo, Sobrie Mazelan (Basit Hamit 65’), Ignatius Ang (Nurhilmi Jasni 58’). Unused subs: Ridzuan Hasan, , Ridhwan Osman, Fazly Hasan, Farhan Rahmat.
Albirex Niigata(S): Takuma Ito(GK), Norihiro Kawakami(C), Kunihiro Yamashita, Atsushi Shimono, Keisuke Matsui, Musashi Okuyama, Yasuhiro Yamakoshi, Sho Kamimura, Takeshi Ito, Keita Kobayashi (Masatake Sato 46’), Hidekazu Yamamoto (Yuki Ichikawa 56’). Unused subs: Toshikazu Soya, Yuta Oguriyama, Masahiko Ando, Kohta Tamakawa, Hiroaki Hara.
Yellow cards: Ignatius Ang, Lau Meng Meng(Hougang United) (SOURCE)