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Toothless Jaguars go down to White Swans

Toothless Jaguars go down to White Swans

Sam Chow

The hosts were unable to muster any meaningful attempts at goal as they fell to two first-half goals from the Japanese side

Tanjong Pagar United lost 2-0 to Albirex Niigata (S) on Tuesday evening at the Queenstown Stadium as the Japanese side returned to winning ways after going eight games without one.

The host were unable to carve out any clear chances against the White Swans and went a goal down as early as the fifth minute.

Kazuki Sakamoto rose the highest to plant a firm header past Aurelien Herisson from an Albirex corner to set the White Swans going, in the process notching his 11th goal of the season.

It was a fairly industrious performance from both sides then on as the tackles and challenges flew in, while chances were rare.

However, Albirex managed to increase their lead in the 35th minute when Bruno Castanheira was brought down inside the box. Shingo Suzuki duly converted the spot-kick to double his team’s lead.

Kamel Ramdani nearly pulled a goal back for Tanjong Pagar two minutes later from K. Vikraman’s cross, but the midfielder headed onto the bar to leave the Jaguars with a two-goal deficit going into the break.

Chasing the game, the Jaguars tried their best but just were unable to break down a superb Albirex defence.

Hanafi Salleh passed the ball into the box for Ismael Benahmed but under tight marking from Yuki Ichikawa, the striker hooked his shot wide.

While Tanjong Pagar struggled to create opportunities, their opponents were finding it easier to trouble their goalkeeper through Castanheira, who was a constant menace.

The forward’s intelligent runs and delicate touch allowed him to force Herisson into saves in the 66th and 74th minutes.

Albirex could have gotten a third goal in the 78th minute when Sakamoto found his way through the Jaguars' backline, but his volley was straight at Herisson.

Tanjong Pagar had a real chance five minutes from time after Monsef Zerka forced his way into a one-on-one with Hiroaki Hara, but Ichikawa raced back in time to clear the ball.

The referee blew the whistle for the end of game after four minutes of injury time as Albirex finally got their first win in nine games.