Former South Korean international Lee Kwan Woo scored the only goal of the match as the uniformed giants survived a second half onslaught from the Japanese side
|FROM JALAN BESAR STADIUM
By Khalis Rifhan
Home United moved to third in the S.League table following their hard fought 1-0 win over Albirex Niigata (S) at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday evening.
It was a very uneventful start to the match, with both sides displaying remarkable passing skills in the middle of the field but failing miserably in the final third with their half-hearted shots that did not trouble the custodians.
The Protectors nearly embarrassed themselves in the 17th minute when a harmless ball by Bruno Castanheira was not dealt with cleanly by Shahril Jantan but luckily for the former Singapore international, Sirina Camara was on hand to clear the ball to safety and bail his goalkeeper out.
Albirex kept their shape compact and showed tactical discipline with their one-touch passing but on several occasions, Kazuki Sakamoto and Takeshi Nagasawa lacked the necessary support needed upfront.
Home took control of the match after the half-hour mark, with Jordan Webb pushed deep into the opponents' half as they sought to break the deadlock.
Five minutes before the break, Hafiz Rahim spurned a glorious opportunity for his side after his initial shot was saved by Kenjiro Ogino before the midfielder failed to take advantage from the follow up, sending the ball high into the sky.
But that incident was soon forgotten by the Home faithful two minutes later as Lee Kwan Woo’s freekick from the left eluded all the bodies in the penalty box and bounced straight into the back of the net to give his side the lead.
To add insult to injury, Ogino appeared to have hurt himself while conceding the goal and had to be stretched off the field and replaced with 35-year-old Hiroaki Hara.
Trailing by a goal, White Swans coach Koichi Sugiyama brought on Masatake Sato in the 64th minute and the 22-year-old created an opportunity for Nagasaki four minutes later, but the former’s close-range header was turned behind for a corner by Shahril.
With the clock ticking down, Albirex launched a barrage of attacks on their opponents but the Protectors stood their ground and hung on for a precious three points to continue their climb up the league table.