RHB SINGAPORE CUP FINAL
Albirex Niigata 2
Home United 1
When midfielder Kento Nagasaki slid in the winning goal in their 2-1 RHB Singapore Cup victory over Home United last night, it meant that all of Singapore's domestic football trophies were in foreign hands for the second time.
Yesterday's win before 4,617 fans at Jalan Besar Stadium for Japanese team Albirex Niigata added to their triumph in The New Paper League Cup and completed a clean sweep for foreign sides, as Brunei DPMM clinched the S-League title.
While the White Swans rejoiced, Home, who were sixth in the 10-team league, could only reflect on how they made life difficult for themselves.
Their feisty midfielder Fazli Ayob received his marching orders in the 26th minute, after kicking an Albirex opponent in the chest as they tussled for the ball.
Despite being reduced to 10 men, Home showed some attacking verve, as midfielder Kamel Ramdani hit the crossbar after a curling effort in the 35th minute.
And it was the Protectors who took the lead, when midfielder Yasir Hanapi sent in a cross that was buried by defender Abdil Qaiyyim in the 72nd minute.
But the lead did not last long, as Albirex drew level five minutes later, after substitute forward Rion Taki headed into the net off a corner by midfielder Fumiya Kogure.
Albirex sealed the match with four minutes to go as Taki turned from scorer to provider by putting in a low cross from the left that was finished off by the onrushing Nagasaki.
Home coach Philippe Aw lamented: "When we had the man sent off, it totally changed the game. We came here to play our brand of football, but we couldn't display that because we were a man down.
"But we outplayed Albirex even though we had one man down. I am very proud of the 10 players."
In contrast, Albirex coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama was delighted, saying: "For us to win the title today is not easy. We have met strong opponents. The local teams are very strong.
"Home United gave us a good fight - we learnt a lot from this. The local team was good enough to win but it was probably down to luck that they didn't win."
The White Swans' victory last night evoked memories of the 2010 season.
Then, foreign teams swept all three trophies for the first time with the now-defunct Etoile FC, a club made up of French players, winning the S-League and the League Cup, while Thailand's Bangkok Glass triumphed in the Singapore Cup.
In yesterday's other match, for third place in the Singapore Cup, DPMM beat Global FC of the Philippines 3-1.