Friday, 15 May 2015

S.League | Albirex go top after comeback win over DPMM


Albirex Niigata (S) reclaimed top spot in the Great Eastern Yeo's S.League after coming from behind to beat Brunei DPMM FC 2-1 at the Jurong East Stadium on Thursday.

Although Rafael Ramazotti had handed the visitors the lead just after the break, Albirex hit back through goals from Rion Taki and Atsushi Kawata to extend their unbeaten run to nine games, overtaking Warriors FC at the league summit in the process.

However, things could have turned out differently had DPMM been able to convert a slew of gilt-edged chances, with the first coming on 19 minutes when Ramazotti did well to hold off Kento Fujihara and head Najib Tarif's cross towards goal, only to see it come back off the bar.

The rest of the half proceeded without much incident as both sides adopted a conservative approach in a game of huge significance at the top of the table, but two minutes after the break, DPMM duly broke the deadlock.

Despite there being little danger when former Sporting Lisbon forward Paulo Sergio drilled a low cross into the six-yard box, Albirex keeper Yosuke Nozawa inexplicably spilled the ball into the path of Rafael Ramazotti, who was left with the simplest of tap-ins.

Albirex took a huge step in their title challenge by defeating Brunei DPMM 2-1 at the Jurong East Stadium on Thursday night.

But just eight minutes later, the hosts found the equaliser when Taki lunged in ahead of Brian McLean to meet Kawata's first-time cross and stabbed a shot past Wardun Yussof at the near post, to bring the crowd to their feet.

And in the 78th minute, the White Swans had the perfect chance to claim the lead after Kawata produced a brilliant turn to leave both opposition centre-backs in his wake and race through, before he was dragged down inside the area by McLean.

Referee Sukhbir Singh had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and also issued the DPMM defender a straight red for a last-man foul, before Kawata stepped up and emphatically fired the spot-kick into the top corner.

The Bruneians did have a number of opportunities to force the draw but Nozawa more than made amends for his earlier error, pulling off a string of fine saves to deny Adi Said, Ramazotti and Sergio to help his side hold out for maximum points.

Speaking after the game, Albirex coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama praised his side's resilience after coming from a goal down.

"The goal we conceded was something unexplainable because Nozawa has been performing at 100 per cent for us all season long," he told ESPN FC. "But we kept fighting and in the end we managed to get the two goals for the win.

"In the past 11 games, the players are getting better at understanding what is expected of them and we are getting better."

Meanwhile, DPMM boss Steve Kean lamented his side's profligacy although he insisted he could not fault their efforts.

"It's disappointing to not get anything when you take the lead in the early part of the second half," the Scot said.

"The pivotal point was the sending off; it might have been a penalty but I didn't think it was a red as I don't think McLean prevented a goal-scoring opportunity.

"There are nights when you do less and get three points, so I definitely felt we deserved at least a draw based on the balance of chances and possession.

"But we've got to give credit to their goalkeeper who made a number of wonderful saves and their defence did well too."

Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa, Rui Kumada, Takahiro Saito, Kento Fujihara, Itsuki Yamada, Hikaru Mizuno, Shun Inaba, Atsushi Kawata, Kento Nagasaki, Rion Taki, Shotaro Ihata (Fumiya Kogure 60').

Brunei DPMM FC: Wardun Yussof, Aminuddin Zakwan, Boris Raspudic, Brian McLean, Sairol Sahari, Hendra Azam (Adi Said 67'), Rosmin Kamis, Joe Gamble, Najib Tarif (Reduan Petara 82'), Paulo Sergio, Rafael Ramazotti.

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