Albirex Niigata 4-1 Hougang United: Champions Albirex Niigata bounce back [SPL 2021 - Round 15]

Clinical White Swans' make Clement Teo's Cheetahs pay for defensive mistakes

Image credit: Singapore Premier League


13 August 2021, Singapore - If there was ever a definitive mark of champions, it's the ability to bounce back from defeats.

Fresh from suffering their first defeat of the season and witnessing their 13 match unbeaten run come to an end, Albirex Niigata passed their test against Hougang United, themselves pushing for a top 3 spot, with flying colours.

It took the White Swans all of just 2 minutes to break the deadlock at Jurong East Stadium, as defender Reo Kunimoto evaded his marker with a run to the near post and leapt highest to divert his header past Izwan Mahbud in the Hougang United goal off an early Albirex corner kick.

The early goal sparked Hougang United into action, and they proceeded to send wave after wave of attack on the Albirex goal in the first period.

The league's top scorer Tomoyuki Doi and Kaishu Yamazaki both came close to leveling for the Cheetah's - with Doi's stinging effort from outside the area on 8 minutes sending Koga scrambling to tip the ball over the bar, and then just 5 minutes later with a deflected effort that went marginally wide after cutting inside his marker.

Yamazuki's ambitious attempt was also deflected just wide of Koga's goal.

The champions Albirex were not to be outdone in terms of creativity, and matched Hougang in carving out good chances, peppering the Hougang goal with shots - first with Kuraba Kondo's half volley on the hour drawing a smart save out of the Izwan Mahbud, and then again on 76 minutes after Kondo skipped past a sea of Hougang defenders.

Image credit: Singapore Premier League

The White Swans' pressure told as again off a corner kick they doubled their lead - Reo Kunimoto scoring his second off a mirror image of his first half goal, off Takahiro Tezuka's outswinger.

That lead was reduced just 2 minutes later, when Hougang finally broke their duck with a free kick deep inside Albirex's half, as Mahiro Takahashi sent the ball into his own net from Shafiq Ghani's left footed cross.

The Cheetah's desire to find an equaliser however left them exposed, and Albirex Niigata punished them with devastating effect - Nagasawa first teeing up Yasuhiro Hanada to rifle home a third from just inside the Hougang penalty box, before Hanada turned creator to set up Tezuka to slot the ball home into an empty net just 2 minutes later to compound Clement Teo and Hougang United's woes.

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