2017 Singapore S-League
  • Sanoussi Tahirou (59')
  • Kento Nagasaki (68')
  • Aung Kyaw Naing (89')

Albirex Niigata (S) beat Balestier Khalsa, go four points clear

Defending champions Albirex Niigata (S) extended their lead at the S.League summit to four points after a narrow 2-1 win against struggling Balestier Khalsa at Jurong East Stadium on Wednesday night.

It was the White Swans' 22nd straight win in all competitions at the venue, with their last home defeat coming in a 1-0 loss to Tampines Rovers in November 2015.

Balestier did well to hold the home side for large periods of the game, but conceded twice in nine second-half minutes. They did pull one back late on, but it was too late.

Albirex almost scored within three minutes of kick off, but Takuya Akiyama nodded Kento Nagasaki's free kick straight into the hands of Zaiful Nizam.

Balestier did have a chance on 14 minutes, but Raihan Rahman's free kick was easily collected by Yosuke Nozawa.

The Tigers did well to limit Albirex's opportunities for the remainder of the first half. However, it was a different story after the break.

Koki Sato, Tsubasa Sano, Akiyama and Shoichiro Sakamoto all put their efforts off-target, before the deadlock was broken on 59 minutes.

Sano needed just one touch to guide in Hiroyoshi Kamata's right-wing cross into the bottom left corner for his 21st goal in all competitions.

The 22-year-old was then unlucky to see his snap shot from outside the box crash off the crossbar.

Kazuaki Yoshinaga's side would duly double their lead in the 68th minute.

Striding onto an inward pass, Kento Nagasaki fired an emphatic shot high past a helpless Zaiful from eight yards out.

The White Swans were content to sit on the two-goal advantage, but could have paid the price when they conceded a minute from time.

Tajeli Selamat's deep cross went unchecked by the Albirex backline, before Myanmarese attacker Aung Kyaw Naing reacted to head home, despite Nozawa's best efforts.

It was the 37-year-old custodian's first goal conceded in 581 minutes of play.

However, Balestier could not find an equalise and went down to a narrow defeat as they remain third-from-bottom with just seven points from 14 outings.

Albirex Niigata (S): Yosuke Nozawa (GK), Hiroyoshi Kamata, Rui Kumada, Takuya Akiyama, Naofumi Tanaka, Ryuya Motoda, Shuto Inaba (C), Kento Nagasaki, Koki Sato (Shoma Kondo 90'), Shoichiro Sakamoto, Tsubasa Sano

Balestier Khalsa: Zaiful Nizam (GK, C), Fadli Kamis, Raihan Rahman, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Ahmad Syahir, Huzaifah Aziz, Hazzuwan Halim, Tajeli Salamat, Nanda Linn Kyaw Chit (Fariz Faizal 84'), Aung Kyaw Naing, Zulkhair Mustaffa (Jonathan Tan 66')