Analysis

Shahfiq stunner ends Albirex Niigata’s 38-game winning streak at Jurong

Shahfiq Ghani struck a free-kick deep into stoppage time to help Hougang United achieve an unlikely 2-2 draw against champions Albirex Niigata FC (S) at Jurong East Stadium on Sunday evening.

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It looked like Albirex was on the way to yet another victory after second-half goals from Adam Swandi and Shun Kumagai overturned Hougang’s first-half lead courtesy of Stanely Ng’s penalty.

However, Hougang were determined not to be mere spectators to the White Swans’ Singapore Premier League (SPL) title party as Shahfiq struck a stoppage-time equaliser to stem their winning run at Jurong East at 38 matches.

The last time Albirex failed to win at home was back in November 2015 in a 1-0 loss to Tampines Rovers.

Hougang got off to the best possible start by scoring after just 14 minutes in. With Nazrul Nazari tripped by Kumagai in the area, Ng stepped up to send Yohsuke Nozawa the wrong way from the spot to give the visitors a dream lead.

That goal stung Kazuaki Yoshinaga’s men into action, as they dominated the rest of the half but were thwarted by an alert Ridhuan Barudin in the Hougang goal.

Pulling off a stunning point-blank save to deny Shuhei Hoshino on 16 minutes, the 31-year-old then tipped Taku Morinaga’s close-range shot onto the post on 28 minutes before smothering Riku Moriyasu’s left-footed drive four minutes later.

Hougang were content to hit on the break and could have doubled the lead eight minutes before the break, but Nazrul lost his composure with just Nozawa to beat as Hiroyoshi Kamata got back in time to clear.a