Song the hero as Protectors edge White Swans in extra-time
The Korean midfielder struck the winner in a five-goal thriller as both sides put on a spectacle in their Singapore Cup clash
By Paul Green
Two teams who had met 11 days earlier in a Great Eastern-YEO’S S.League match at Jalan Besar Stadium got together again at Jurong East Stadium in an RHB Singapore Cup Preliminary Round game on Tuesday evening, where both teams served up a real thriller.
Albirex Niigata (S) were headed twice in the game in regulation time, but they came back to level once before half time and another time before the end to force extra-time. However, three minutes from the end of an epic contest in the 117th minute, Home United managed to get their heads in front for a third time.
This time, the Protectors managed to hang on for the 3-2 win, providing them with a passage into the two-legged quarter-finals.
Having looked the more dominant of the two teams early on, it probably came as no surprise when Home took the lead in the 24th minute.
Jordan Webb exchanged passes with the lively Hafiz Rahim before the Canadian threaded the ball through a needle-eye opening for born-again striker Masrezwan Masturi to slide the ball past Albirex goalkeeper Kenjiro Ogino.
The former Singapore international striker, converted to a defender by Protectors coach Lee Lim Saeng last season, managed a brace before being replaced by Aliff Shafaein just before the hour mark.
Earlier however, Albirex had managed to draw level in the 34th minute after a freekick from deep found the head of White Swans top-scorer Kazuki Sakamoto, whose header beat the wrong-footed Shahril Jantan in the Home goal.
After the break, the visitors looked again to take control, with Masrezwan putting his team ahead for a second time after only 48 minutes.
Webb provided the cross and when the defender on the line tried to smash the ball away, it merely rebounded off the chest of Masrezwan, whose momentum had carried him to within point blank range.
But despite their apparent dominance at that stage, Home found out that Albirex were far from finished.
A ball played towards the Protectors goal from deep looked set to be cleared by Sirina Camara, who leapt in the air but made no contact.
This meant that Bruno Castanheira, who was following through, found the ball at his feet and he planted it into an empty net to make it 2-2.
The spectators were provided with some thrilling entertainment but inevitably, with such a close contest, extra-time loomed and it meant there was even the possibility of penalties being needed to decide the contest.
They weren’t needed in the end though, as Home found a late winner.
Hafiz’s lovely cross from the right found Song Uiyoung in the middle, and the Korean midfielder controlled the ball briefly before smashing it into the roof of the net.
The White Swans were not giving in without a fight and threatened to level for a third time, but despite Castanheira hitting the post and his partner Sakamoto lifting the ball over the bar from right in front, it just wasn’t going to be their day in the end.
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