Albirex trounce Young Lions 4-0 to stretch lead at top

Albirex Niigata (s) earned a comfortable 4-0 win over Garena Young Lions at Jurong East Stadium on Thursday evening. 

The White Swans were rarely troubled in the game and the victory helped them go four points clear at the top, at least for the next 24 hours until Tampines Rovers face Warriors FC.

The first half had ended scoreless, although the Young Lions were clearly under heavy pressure from the start.

Young Lions goalkeeper Fashah Iskandar had to deny Hiroyoshi Kamata in the 25th minute before Rui Kamada hit the woodwork with his header in the 37th minute.

The visitors were lucky not to concede in the 39th minute, after Atsushi Kawata powered Kento Nagasaki's corner towards goal but he was denied by the Young Lions custodian.

I am thinking we don't have any point difference between us and Tampines, I just think we need to win all the remaining games

- Albirex Naoki Naruo

Just before the break, Fashah had to race off his line to clear the danger from Kamata before producing a stupendous save to push away Kawata's curling shot from just outside the box.

But it was a different story after the restart, as the White Swans opened the scoring within a minute of kick-off.

The opener came via a brilliant effort by Tomoki Menda, who bulged the back of the net with his unstoppable shot from a tight angle.

The second goal nearly came in the 72nd minute, as Inui ran into the box and half-volleyed a fierce effort at goal but Fashah did superbly well to tip it over. Kawata then headed just wide of the post from the resulting corner.

It was not till the 80th minute that the floodgates fully opened, after Shannon Stephen saw red for a cynical foul and left his side down to 10 men.

The White Swans poured forward and could have added a second on numerous occasions as Naofumi Tanaka hit the bar before Rusyaidi Salime cleared an effort off the line.

The Young Lions finally caved into the pressure in the 84th minute, as defender Ashrul Syafeeq gave the ball away to Nagasaki and the veteran closed down on goal before slotting past Fashah.


Menda was a menace with his overlapping runs down the right

Jitozono then found Tatsuro Inui down the left minutes later and it was 3-0 as the latter buried the ball with a well-taken strike.

Right at the death, Nagasaki capped a superb performance by meeting Inui's cross and flicked in his second goal of the match.

Albirex head coach Naoki Naruo was satisfied his side bounced back from two consecutive league defeats to give themselves some breathing space in the title race again.

However, the Japanese believes the club needs to win their remaining game to capture their first-ever league title.

"I am thinking we don't have any point difference between us and Tampines, I just think we need to win all the remaining games," Naruo said.

"We should have showed a little more today but because of last week's defeat to Brunei DPMM it took some time for us to get adjusted to the game."

Young Lions coach Patrick Hesse was disappointed his team conceded early in the second half, but he believed his team acquitted themselves well after a poor 3-1 defeat to Balestier Khalsa.

"After the game last week where we didn't show anything, it was better today as we fought competed for one half with arguably the best team of the league," Hesse.

"Last week I was ashamed, today I am proud."

Photos: S.League