HOUGANG UNITED 3
Diego Gama 47′, Geison Moura 89′, 90′
ALBIREX NIIGATA 1
Kazuki Sakamoto 22′
Cheetahs’ Brazillian attacking duo Diego Gama and Geison Moura salvaged another three points in the bag for Hougang United in a 3-1 comeback win at Hougang Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The result meant that the Cheetahs will stay top of the S.League table for at least 24 hours, with Balestier Khalsa, Tampines Rovers and Brunei DPMM FC yet to play their matches in the third round of the competition.
Without their Croatian defensive duo Igor Cerina and Durica Zuparic, the Cheetahs fielded an unfamiliar centreback partnership of Wahyudi Wahid and debutant Firman Hanif, who just joined the Cheetahs from Courts Young Lions last week. Cerina is still out with a hamstring injury and while Zuparic did passed a late fitness test, he remained on the bench.
The White Swans dominated proceedings in the first half and took the lead on the 22nd minute when Kazuki Sakamoto’s shot trickled between Fadhil Salim’s legs.
A further blow struck when the Cheetahs’ lost Fadhil Salim, a key figure in their regular line-up. After a clash with one of the Swans’ striker, a suspected dislocated finger forced a substitution with Nazri Sabri replacing the Singapore international. Sabri’s first piece of action was to deny Sakamoto his second of the night with a point blank save.
That spurred the Cheetahs’ into gear five and they managed to put the ball into the net on the 45th minute but referee Sukhbir Singh disallowed the goal for offside.
Hougang returned a different and better side in the second half. Coach Amin Nasir’s half time message to his charges paid off almost immediately on the 47th minute when Diego Gama headed home from an Azhar Sairudin’s freekick. Azhar had a golden chance to seal the lead but his freekick hit the crossbar.
The Cheetahs roared Hougang Stadium into delirium in the 89th minute of the game when Geison Moura’s tame shot trickled past Kazuki Kishigami’s arm and into the net.
Geison completed his brace for the night when Kishigami failed to grasp a cross from Fairoz Hasan. The Brazilian volleyed the rebound home on what was virtually the last kick of the game.
Fadhil Salim (c) (Nazri Sabri 38′), Wahyudi Wahid, Firman Hanif, Lau Meng Meng, Faizal Amir, Shunsuke Nakatake, Azhar Sairudin, Fazli Jaffar (Nurhilmi Jasni ’90), Erwan Gunawan (Fairoz Hasan 78′), Diego Gama, Geison Moura
Kazuki Kishigami (GK), Kento Fujihara, Koki Akasaka (Yusuke Ueda 67’), Itsuki Yamada (C), Keisuke Ota (Hiroki Morisaki 80’), Kosuke Matsuda, Kazuya Okazaki, Kento Nagasaki, Kazuki Sakamoto, Sochiro Tanaka, Shuhei Hotta