League Cup: Silk and steel win it for Tigers

League Cup: Silk and steel win it for Tigers
Balestier captain Paul Cunningham (in white) launching into a late tackle on Takeshi Nagasawa.

SINGAPORE - There was nary a helmet in sight last Monday night at the Jurong East Stadium.

Perhaps Albirex Niigata didn't even need them for their StarHub League Cup semi-final against Balestier Khalsa.

Sure, they were given all sorts of problems by Balestier's 1.88m-tall defender Paul Cunningham, deployed as a battering ram up front.

But, for all the Japanese side's worries about their opponents' physicality, it was a moment of sublime skill that undid them.

There looked to be little danger when the ball rolled towards Balestier's Park Kang Jin at the edge of the penalty box in the 12th minute.

But the South Korean midfielder spun his marker with a superb first touch, before sending a cool finish low into the far corner with his weaker left foot.

The brilliant strike - which won Balestier the game - contradicted Tigers' coach Darren Stewart's pre-match claim that Albirex would "need helmets" to deal with their direct style of football.

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