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Sazali Abdul Aziz
Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

Sports

S.League: Champions pegged back

The New Paper | Sazali Abdul Aziz | Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

BRACE: A picture of the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League match between Albirex Niigata vs Tampines Rovers at Jurong East Stadium on 25 Aug 2014. Albirex Niigata forwards Kazuki Sakamoto (right) wheeling away after pulling his side level with his second goal of the match. The match ends in a draw, Albirex Niigata 2 and Tampines Rovers 2.

ALBIREX NIIGATA 2 (Kazuki Sakamoto 74 pen, 88)

TAMPINES ROVERS 2 (Noh Alam Shah 33, Jake Butler 61)

msazali@sph.com.sg

SINGAPORE - For the second day in a row, Brunei DPMM were the biggest winners in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League, without even taking to the field.

The league leaders watched as their four direct rivals played each other and picked up a solitary point each after dramatic finishes in their respective matches.

On Sunday, Warriors FC needed a 94th-minute goal to hold Home United to a 2-2 draw at the Bishan Stadium.

On Monday night, defending champions Tampines Rovers surrendered a two-goal lead as they were held by Albirex Niigata by the same scoreline, at the Jurong East Stadium.

DPMM themselves will now look to capitalise when they entertain unfancied Woodlands Wellington in Bandar Seri Begawan tonight.

On Monday night, Tampines were left fuming after referee Ahmad A'qashah awarded the hosts a controversial penalty in the 73rd minute that gave the White Swans hope.

Stags defender Anaz Hadee appeared to win the ball cleanly off Kazuya Okazaki with a firm but fair challenge, but A'qashah, who was only metres away, had no doubt.

Kazuki Sakamoto stepped up to fire the ball past Tampines goalkeeper Justin Pasfield.

The penalty changed the complexion of the match as the Japanese side, renowned for their supreme fitness, turned the screws in the final 15 minutes.

Just two minutes before the end, Sakamoto was the man on the spot for the Albirex again, curling the ball past Pasfield from the edge of the box.

The 25-year-old's brace last night took him to the top of the S.League's scoring charts with 19 goals.

Tampines team manager Clement Teo, who faced the press in place of coach Rafi Ali who had screamed himself hoarse during the game, did not want to criticise the penalty decision.

"In football, you gain some and you lose some," he said.

"From where we were seated, we felt Anaz got the ball but I don't want to comment on the referee.

"What has happened has happened, and there's no point crying over spilt milk."

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