Albirex clinch hat-trick of League Cup after hard-fought match with Warriors

Albirex Niigata (S) earned their third successive League Cup in a row after beating Warriors FC 1-0 in extra time on Friday night at Jalan Besar Stadium. 

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The game was seemingly headed for penalties after both sides played out a 0-0 draw at full-time, but Tsubasa Sano pounced onto a mistake by Hyrulnizam Juma’at to tuck away the winner in the 111st minute.

This meant that no local clubs have won any silverware since 2014, with Brunei DPMM and Albirex taking home all the trophies available.

The game began at a furious pace, with both sides enjoying several opportunities to break the deadlock in the first half.

But the bright start proved to be a false dawn, as the chances soon dried up, especially in the second half.

Ho Wai Loon first tested Yosuke Nozawa with a rasping drive from inside the box but the veteran got down quickly to parry the ball away in the seventh minute.

Moments later, Shahril Ishak prodded a ball through to Jordan Webb, allowing him to run towards goal. However, he was denied by Nozawa at point-blank range.

Albirex came close next, as Tsubasa Sano got a header onto Hiroyoshi Kamata’s cross and had Hyrulnizam at full stretch to tip it away in the 12th minute.

In the 18th minute, Hyrulnizam again was tested, this time having to stop Kento Nagasaki’s effort from distance.

At the other end, Andrei-Cosmin Ciolacu had a go as well but his shot from an acute angle was beat away by Nozawa.

But the bright start proved to be a false dawn, as the chances soon dried up, especially in the second half.

Apart from a fierce attempt by Sano in the 49th minute, which Hyrulnizam tipped away, there was little notable opportunities on goal until late in the game.

Warriors had the chance to finally claim the lead in the 80th minute, when Takuya Akiyama was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.

However, Jordan Webb’s penalty was palmed away by Nozawa and although Shahril got onto the rebound first, he blasted sky high.

Going into extra-time, Shahril cleverly tried to lob Nozawa from inside the box but the veteran goalkeeper once again came to Albirex’s rescue by pushing the ball over in the 103rd minute.

That save allowed Albirex to score the winner eight minutes later, as Hyrulnizam fumbled Ryuya Motoda’s cross and allowed Sano to slot home from eight yards out.

Photos: S.League