Tuesday, April 29, 2008

R10 Ehime - Cerezo preview


Ehime FC Cerezo Osaka

Ehime have only take a single point in their last 5 matches, and are in really bad form at the moment. Cerezo haven’t set J2 on fire either, but are only 2 points clear of 2nd place which is not too bad. Cerezo have had some big injury-problems lately, but only got 3 players out now. Ehime as well are without 2 midfielders, and will probably struggle more than Cerezo without them. Ehime’s home form is 2-1-3, while Cerezo have been really bad away lately with only 1-1-4 on their last 6. All previous meetings gives us 1-0-3, with Cerezo winning both matches played in Ehime. No doubt Cerezo got a good chance here of getting their season back on track, as they have been disappointing so far. Regarded as the best side next to Sanfrecce, the start they’ve had is not good enough if they want to gain J1 promotion. Here they meet a side in awful form, without 2 regulars, and historically a bad head-to-head record. Cerezo are in other words huge favorites, and anything but an away win seems very unlikely.

Monday, April 28, 2008

R9 - J2 Results

Vegalta Sendai Mito Hollyhock 3-3
V: Ryan Yong-Gi 69’, Hirase 79’,86’
M: Arata 23’, Nishino 80’,88’

In a thriller of match where both teams came up with some very entertaining football, Vegalta and Mito shared the spoils after some last-minute drama. The match ended 3-3, after both teams scored 2 goals within the last 10 minutes. Arata gave Mito an early lead in the 23rd minute, after making no mistake one-on-one with the Vegalta keeper. That proved to be the only goal in the 1st half, despite both teams having plenty of chances. Good goalkeeping on either sides prevented more goals, and we had to wait until the 69th minute for the equalizer. North Korean International Ryan Yong Gi beautifully made it 1-1 , and with the Mito players looking a bit tired at this stage, Vegalta suddenly looked favorites for the win. They scored a 2nd through substitute and veteran striker Tomoyuki Hirase in the 79th minute, but just seconds later, Nishio were on fire for Mito to make it 2-2. Hirase added a 2nd in the 86th minute, but once again Nishino equalized, making the match end 3-3. With that, Vegalta scored more than one goal a match for the first time this season, but considering 2 of the goals came from Hirase, a striker known for his poor goal-rate, they very much still have a problem up front. Vegalta had 19 shots and Mito had 20.

Shonan Bellmare FC Gifu 4-2
S: Ishihara 3’, Hara 56’, Adiel 81’, Kato 90’
G: Own Goal, 39’,41’

Shonan took their 3rd win on a row as they beat Gifu at home by the score of 4-2. Shonan were the best team by far, outshooting their opponents 22-4. Ishihara gave them the lead after only 3 minutes with a nice heading goal, and the home team should have buried the match early as they had many big chances the opening half. Instead, 2 unlucky own-goals over a period of 3 minutes saw Gifu be 2-1 up by half-time, in which looked like a robbery. Luckily for the home-crowd, who were starting to fear a shock-away win, Shonan responded early in the 2nd haf through Hara who scored after his shot deflected a Gifu defender. The goal came in Gifu’s only good period of the game, and Shonan looked the most likely winner from now on. Still, we had to wait until very late in the match for the next goal, which came through playmaker Adiel. In injury-time, Gifu’s Komine received marching order for a professional foul, and on the following free-kick, Kato rounded off the match with a nice goal to make it 4-2 for Shonan.
S: Hirashige 57’, Hattori 82’

After losing their last match, Sanfrecce did good to bounce back with a 2-1 win at Roasso this round. Sanfrecce didn’t impress though, and Roasso gave them a tough match. Satoshi Nakayama had 2 goals disallowed early in the match before Hirashige gave Sanfrecce the lead in the 57th minute on a penalty kick. The match had very few chances, and when Hattori sank a shot in the 82nd minute, the match were literally won for Sanfrecce. Roasso got one back though in the 87th minute through an own goal, but never looked like scoring a 2nd. Roasso had 8 shots to Sanfrecce’s 10, who still lies 1st in the standings.

Ventforet Kofu Ehime FC 1-0
V: Josimar 56’

After a poor start to their season, Kofu took their 2nd win in a row and 3rd in the last 4 to go 6th in the table, only 2 points behind 2nd placed Shonan. Ehime became a number too small, and Kofu had few problems beating them 1-0. Ehime created almost nothing of danger, and Kofu’s defence had a quiet day at work. However, Kofu weren’t on fire themselves, having ony 7 shots on goal ( to Ehime’s 4), they found themselves fortunate that Josimar gave the home-side the lead in the 56th minute with a nice finish.
Ehime have now only taken 1 point in their last 5, and currently lies 13th.

Following the 0-0 draw with Avispa here, Montedio are now unbeaten for 5 matches, and currently lies 8th in the table.Avispa on the other hand, have had a poor start to their season, and lies as low as 11th. But it’s only 4 points up to 2nd place, so they can improve on that with a few wins in their next matches. The match didn’t have many chances, and overall Avispa were marginally better than the home-side. Avispa also came closest a win, with a shot that rebounded off the post early in the 2nd half. Montedio lacked accuracy in their passing, which saw Avispa threatening them on the break several times. Montedio had only 6 shots this match, to Avispa’9.

Sagan Tosu Tokushima Vortis 2-1
S: Takachi 6’, Fujita 55’
T: Ishida 85’

Following last week’s loss, Sagan did well to beat an in-form Tokushima side 2-1 at home this round. Sagan always looked the better team, and took an early lead through Takachi who scored with a nice free-kick. Star-player Fujita added a 2nd early in the 2nd half, which took the game out of reach for Tokushima. The visitors still managed to get a goal back though, as Ishida scored after a set-play in the 85th minute. So after 3 wins in a row, Tokushima’s run ended here, as Sagan climbed to 3rd in the table. Sagan had 14 shots to Tokushima’s 8.
C: Komatsu 44’

The biggest match of the round were played in Yokohama, where Cerezo were visiting. The teams shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw which Cerezo can be most happy about. Neither of the teams looked to be on fire, and a draw is probably the most fair result here. Nejime gave Yokohama the lead after 35 minutes, after he met a cross from Miura from the left. Rui Komatsu, who is finally being preferred at the cost of the disappointing Careca, equalized with a nice header from a Kagawa cross just before the break.
A slippery and rain-soaked pitch made it hard for the technical players to do much damage, which affected Cerezo more than Yokohama. Yokohama and Hiroyuki Nanba had a goal correcly disallowed in the 80th minute, and in the end, the match ended 1-1 and a draw.

R8 - J1 Match Reports

Joy for former Cerezo-striker Okubo as he sinks Gamba

Vissel Kobe Gamba Osaka 2-1
V: Okubo 39’,57’

G: Bare 52’

Gamba lost their fir
st match in 6 league matches this round, when Vissel beat them 2-1 at home. Yoshito Okubo became today’s biggest hero, with 2 fine goals that proved to much for Gamba to bounce back from. First, he headed in a cross from Koga to make it 1-0 in the 39th minute. Bare equalized for Gamba just after the break through a set-piece, but just minutes later Okubo were on target again, as he took down a long-pass from Botti and neatly finished to make it 2-1. With that, Kobe took their first win in 5 matches, and currently lies ahead of Gamba on goal-aggregate, both with 12 points. Gamba had 15 shots to Vissel’s 10, and deserved atleast a draw here.

Omiya Ardija Kashima Antlers 1-1
O: Kobayashi 76’
K: Koroki 27’

Omiya once again impressed with a brilliant display against one of the big boys, and were unlucky not to win the match against Kashima. Omiya looked great already from the start, creating several big chances before Shinzo Koroki made it 0-1 for Kashima in the 27th minute after a defensive mix-up in the Omiya-defence. Omiya tried hard to find the equalizer, but missed chances let them down once again. Especially Denis Marques, who overall played another great match, should have scored one or two goals. In the 2nd half, both teams came close with shots that hit the crossbar, and the equalizer didn’t come before in the 76th minute, when Kobayashi headed home a corner kick. Omiya deserved more, which their 18 shots to Kashima 7 suggest, but they can be happy to have stolen points from both Urawa and Kashima, which is not bad for such a small club.

JEF Utd Ichihara Jubilo Iwata 1-2
Je: Yazawa 22’
Ju: Gilisinho 42’,57’

JEF are the only team yet to win a match this season, and despite a good start against Jubilo here, they failed to run the match out, and lost deservedly in the end. Yazawa gave them the lead in the 22nd minute after he met a cross from Sakamoto, but right before the break Gilsinho equalled that lead with a nice finish. Gilsinho added another in the 57th minute, and JEF never really managed to bounce back from it. Jubilo should have scored more goals, and had plenty of chances, especially in the 2nd half when JEF were forced to go forward. In the end a very deserved win for Jubilo. JEF are not 5 behind the 17th placed team, and need to get their season going soon if they want to survive in J1.

Kawasaki Frontale Kashiwa Reysol 3-2
F:Juninho 67’,Mori 71’,Taniguchi 86’
R:Alex 26’, Kobayashi 40’

A late comeback from Kawasaki saw them take a much-needed 3-2 win over strugglers Kashiwa Reysol. Reysol took the lead after 26 minutes through Alex, and made it 0-2 just before the break through Kobayashi. With a 2-goal lead, Kashiwa probably thought the controlled it, and took more chances in the 2nd half. That was a bad move, as Kawasaki first reduced through Juninho, who scored with a hard and well-placed shot, before Mori added a 2nd just minutes later. With the teams deadlocked, suddenly Kawasaki looked the most likely winner, as they had overall been the best team with the most chances. A late header by Hiroyuki Taniguchi seale the win for Kawasaki, who outshot Kashiwa 18-10.To make it worse, Reysol got 2 players sent off in injury-time as well.

Kyoto Purple Sanga Urawa Red Diamonds 0-4
U: Takahara 57’,76’, Tulio 60’,65’

Kyoto lost their 2nd match in a row when they hosted Urawa,and once again they felt they were unfairly treated by the referee. They once again had to finish the game with less than 11 players, as Tahara received marching order 9 minutes into the 2nd half. Once again it was a cheap red-card, and the sending-off turned the match into Urawa’s favour. Kyoto had been the best team in the 1st half, but just minutes after Tahara’s red, Takahara scored his first ever goal for Urawa to make it 1-0 for the guests with a nice shot from tight angle. Tulio doubled the lead 3 minutes after, and added another in the 65th minute with a nice header from a CK. Takahara got his 2nd also from a corner, when he poked the ball into the open net. By no means impressive from Urawa, but they showed great efficiency and currently lies 3rd, only 3 points behind front-runners Nagoya. For Kyoto’s sake, they are now having an attack-crisis, with Paulinho sidelined for the rest of the season following an achilles-injury. With Tahara suspended as well, and Yanagisawa and Tokushige both doutbtful, they currently got no real striker available.

Oita Trinita Yokohama F Marinos 1-0
O: Fukaya 32’

Oita ended their streak at 5 matches without a win with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Marinos at home. The match had very few chances to both teams, and it took a cracker of a shot for Oita to win it as Fukaya’s shot in the 32nd minute were too well-placed for Enomoto in the Yokohama goal to save. Marinos had several chances after that to equalize, but neither Oshima or Roni managed to find the net. For the 2nd half, Oita could easily have made it a 2-0, with a double-chance gone begging. Marinos did their best to get a goal, and probably deserved atleast a draw here, but in the end Oita could take their 3rd win of the season which places them as high as 9th.

Tokyo Verdy Nagoya Grampus Eight 2-0
T: Diego 54’, Kawano 72’

The biggest upset of the round came in Tokyo,where Verdy beat the league leaders Nagoya 2-0. Nagoya weren’t as good as in earlier matches, but still looked the better team by half-time. Neither of the teams came to that many chances though. In the 2nd half, Verdy got more into the game, and took the lead in the 54th minute through brazilian Diego, who scored with a loose shot that Narazaki in the Nagoya goal probably should have saved. 18 minutes later, the impressive youngster Kawano, who just returned from injury, scored with a beautiful header to make it 2-0 and killed the game off with that. Overall it was a very even match, with both teams controlling each their half. For once, Verdy looked the most effective team though and took their 2nd win of the season. Verdy had 13 shots to Nagoya’s 14.

Consadole Sapporo Albirex Niigata 0-1
A: Matsuo 63’

Albirex took another lucky win at the hands of Consadole which means they now have 2 wins in a row and currently clear of relegation. Consadole were early on reduced to 10 men after their star player Davi headbutted an Albirex defender after Davi tried to win a penalty with a clear dive. Albirex’s players surrounded Davi after the blatant dive, and just like Zidane in the World Cup the brazilian lost his head and were correctly sent-off. Before the incident, Consadole had been the better team, creating several dangerous attacks. Albirex got more into the match after the sending-off, and once again they found themselves playing against a reduced team. It took a very lucky goal to win this one though, as a mis-kicked cross from Matsuo ended up behind Consadole’s keeper, leaving him totally wrong-footed and without a chance to stop it. Despite being a man down, Consadole fought hard for the equalizer, and probably deserved atleast a point this match. Consadole had 11 shots to Albirex’s 12.

Shimizu S-Pulse FC Tokyo 1-0
S: Aoyama 45’

Shimizu took only their 2nd win of the season they they overcame a weak Tokyo side at Nihondaira this round. Tokyo, who had been playing some nice football in their recent matches failed to live up to the expectations here, and in the end lost deservedly 1-0. Not that Shimizu were any great, but they had the biggest chances and more hungry players than the visitors. After coming close midway through the 1st half with a shot that struck the post, Shimizu deserved to take the lead right before the break, when Aoyama headed home a corner-kick. The 2nd half was a bit more even, but as Tokyo squandered the few chances they came to Shimizu ended up as winners. Shimizu had 8 shots to Tokyo’s 7, and compared to possession that should have been higher for Shimizu’s sake, who instead opted for a defensive strategy in the 2nd half.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

R8 - J2 Match Reports

Sanfrecce Hiroshima Ventforet Kofu 1-2
S: Hattori 5’
V:Josimar 8’ , Akimoto 25’

Sanfrecce somewhat surprisingly lost out 1-2 at home vs Kofu this round, which was their first loss this season. Kofu had only won 1 match this season, and were in much worser form than the home-side. Sanfrecce took an early lead though, when Hattori scored with a nice shot. Sanfrecce continued to pressure after that, hoping for another goal, But instead it was Kofu that scored from a counter-attack, finished off by brazilian striker Josimar. Another counter-attack in the 25th minute saw the visitors go up in a 2-1 lead, after DF Akimoto scored his first goal of the season. The first half didn’t see much more, and Sanfrecce gave it their best to come-back in the 2nd half. They played with 3 FW’s ,but poor accuracy in the finishing and good defending from Kofu saw the match end with a 2-1 win for Kofu. All in all Sanfrecce were the best team, but the shot statistic shows 12-13, so Kofu can be happy with the win.

Tokushima Vortis Mito Hollyhock 2-0
T: Muguruma 42’ , Doumbia 89’

2 small teams in good form met in Shikoku this round, and it was the home side that ended up winners. Inspired once again by the impressive Doumbia Tokushima put on a nice display, and took their first ever home-win vs Mito, and only their 2nd ever. Muguruma made it 1-0 just before the break, after Mito had some big chances earlier in the half. That was in fact the youngster’s first ever goal in J.League. The 2nd half started out pretty much as the first, with both teams coming to chances, and the momentum changing constantly. Mito once again blew a few big chances, and Doumbia had the honour of killing the game off with his goal in the 89th minute, which takes his tally to 4 goals this season. Tokushima had 12 shots to Mito’s 9, and with the win, they lie as high as 9th in the league, ahead of teams like Avispa and Kofu.

After 2 consecutive losses, Cerezo were desperate for 3 points here, and only managed to scrape through for a 1-0 win. Cerezo wer by far the best team, but they lacked a plan in their attack, and squandered way too many chances. With 5 regulars out with injury, that explains a bit why Cerezo hasn’t been hitting on all sylinders yet. Shinji Kagawa played once again a very good match, and were the main threat for Cerezo, creating several chances both for himself and also for his team-mates. But things didn’t start to happen before Sakemoto came on for Nakayama late in the 2nd half, and the speedy winger were vital in Cerezo’s win, as his cross found Germano in the box, who made it 1-0 for the home team. Roasso played a good match actually, especially in defence, and also came to some chances of their own. But they didn’t deserve any points from this match, and the 1-0 result seems fair. With all teams dropping points all the time, it’s only 4 points from 1st to 10th place so far in J2, which means even teams like Cerezo,Avispa and Kofu, who haven’t had the best of starts, still are very much in it. Cerezo for example, are only 2 points clear of the top.

Avispa Fukuoka Sagan Tosu 2-0
A: Tanaka 12’ , Miyamoto 37’

Avispa took a much-needed and impressive win over in-form side Sagan Tosu in the first Kyushu-derby this season. With the fear of Sanfrecce and Sagan especially getting a too big point-advantage, it was vital for Avispa to win this one. They started the game out pretty well, after Griffiths and Tanaka combined well before Tanaka took a right-footed shot to make it 1-0 for the home side after 12 minutes. For Sagan, an already difficult situation got more difficult whe DF Yuichi Shibakoya got sent off after half-an hour. Right before the break, it was time for another Avispa goal, this time from DF Miyamoto, who started his first match this season. Avispa had no problems maintaining their lead, and were very deserved winners. Sagan looked a bit out of it, but clearly the sending-off affected their play, limiting their chances to go forward.
M: Sakai 89’

After a string of nice displays, Montedio were disappointing when they only managed 1-1 away against Thespa this match. But thanks to Sakai’s last minute goal they now are undefeated for 4 matches, which is not bad considering how all the other teams are dropping points regularly. Thespa got off to to the best start, and took the lead through Goto, on a pre-emptive attack. That was Goto’s 2nd goal in 2 matches, and he seems to be in good form. Montedio did their best to get back into the match, and should heave equalized earlier than they did. With a bit more luck, Montedio might have won this, as they had the most of chances and looked overall the best team. Montedio had 13 shots to Thespa’s 8.

Ehime FC Vegalta Sendai 1-1
E: Uchimura 89’
V: Ryan Yong Gi 25’

Vegalta once again came up with a disappointing result when they only managed 1-1 against Ehime this round. Thanks to a last-minute equalizer, Ehime took a very valuable point that ended their losing streak. Vegalta took the lead after a set-piece in the 25th minute which saw Ryan Yong Gi give the visitors a deserved lead. Vegalta had several chances to double the score, but lack of accuracy in the finishing saw them once again scoring only 1 goal. Ehime received a penalty in the 84th minute, but Vegalta’s keeper saved it, and Ehime’s fans who eyed a point were left in despair. But in injury-time, Ehime bounced back from the PK-miss and scored the equalizer through Uchimura. To big regret for Vegalta, but they can only blame themselves for not finishing off the game at an earlier point.

FC Gifu Yokohama FC 2-3
G: Katayama 20’, Yoshimura 60’
Y: Own goal 44’, Yatsuda 82’, Anderson 89’
A late spurt from Yokohama saw them take an important win at Gifu, who were unlucky to be on the losing side.Gifu took an early lead through prolific striker Katayama, who scored with a clever shot that beat the goalkeeper.Gifu looked pretty good in the opening minutes, and only an unlucky own-goal from Kazunari Kan right at the break prevented them from being 1-0 up by half-time. Gifu took the lead on the hour break through defender Yoshimura, and the fans were eyeing another famous win over a big-team. but Yokohama had most energy left at the end, and scored 2 quick goals to win the match. Anderson became the match-winner with a cracking shot, which was his 6th goal of the season. Gifu probably deserved a draw, but in the end Yokohama took an important win.

R7 - J1 Match Reports

Only 1-1 for Marinos home against S-Pulse

Jubilo Iwata Oita Trinita 1-1
J: Bandai 54’

O: Roberto 17’

Jubilo and Oita shared the spoils in what was a tight and entertaining match, with both teams having plenty of chances. With both teams stuch in the lower half of the table, a win were important here, especially for Jubilo who should aim for a top 5 finish. But it was Oita that started best, and took the lead through brazilian Roberto who scored with a beautiful header in the 17th minute. Jubilo were caught sleeping on a counter, and struggled to get back in to the game after the early goal. 9 minutes into the 2nd half, they broke free though, as Ex-Vegalta star Hiroki Bandai scored with a nice volley-shot to make it 1-1. Bandai has had a good start to his Jubilo-career, having 2 league goals so far. Jubilo pressed on for a 2nd goal, but despite several chances they didn’t look like scoring. Oita as well had some counters, but all in all 1-1 was a fair result.

Urawa Red Diamonds Omiya Ardija 0-0

The Saitama-derby ended a scoreless 0-0, which means Urawa hasn’t beaten their ”smaller” rival in 3 games. And actually Urawa were lucky to escape with a draw here, as the visitors created the most of the chances, and always looked to be a step ahead of the Urawa players. Especially in-form brazilian striker Denis Marques created havoc in the Urawa-defence, and with a bit more luck he could have scored one or two goals. This match has historically meant alot more to Omiya than to Urawa, and perhaps that’s one of the reasons why the visitors usually puts in sich a good performance these matches. But Urawa should start to take Omiya more seriously, as clearly they have become a very competitive side. Urawa once again opted to start with Takahara up front, and once again he looked to be totally out of it,playing another lousy match. Urawa started with 3 FW’s, and neither Takahara,Edmilson or Nagai had their best day. Tatsuya Tanaka, who weren’t expected to return for another 2 weeks, made the bench this match for Urawa, and the speedy little FW played 20-30 minutes, and showed glimpses of what made him a fan-favorite for Urawa. But all in all, Omiya were the best team here, outshooting Urawa 13-8, and deserved the win.

Yokohama F Marinos Shimizu S-Pulse 1-1
Y: Nakazawa 85’

S: Nishizawa 47’

Marinos and Shimizu shared the spoils at Nissan Stadium in a match that ended 1-1. It was a evenly contested match, but Marinos had the most of the chances and probably deserved more than the single point. But after Shimizu’s cracking win in the Nabisco last round, they seemed to have regained their confidence, and put on a good display against a tough opponent. After a scoreless first half with few chances to both teams, Shimizu took the lead 2 minutes into the 2nd half through ex-Cerezo FW Akinori Nishizawa. The veteran striker headed home a cross from the left, and now Marinos had a tough task ahead of them. With 3 offensive subs just after the goal, Marinos put the pressure on Shimizu, but despite having plenty of chances they still couldn’t find a goal. But 5 minutes before the end, DF Yuji Nakazawa rose highest on a corner to make it 1-1 with another header, which saw the match end 1-1. Marinos had 15 shots to Shimizu’s 8, and Shimizu’s hard work earned them a point.

Kashiwa Reysol Tokyo Verdy 5-1
K: Ota 8’,83’, Lee 13’, Otani 21’, Alex 71’
T: Tomisawa 79’

Reysol produced the biggest upset this round, with a cracking 5-1 over strugglers Tokyo Verdy. In a match that was actually quite evenly contested, the home team proved to be the most effective teams, scoring a total of 5 goals. MF Keisuke Ota scored 2 fine goals, the first one after only minutes. Tadanari Lee and Otani also got on the scoresheet early on, and the match were literally killed off by the 21st minute. Alex scored his first for the club in the 71st minute,before Verdy got one back through Seitaro Tomisawa. Tomisawa were later sent off in the dying minutes, which completed Verdy’s misery this evening. With this, Verdy have conceded 10 goals in their last 2 matches, and are really hitting low-for. For Reysol, it was a nice match, and 5 goals will definitely help the team’s moral and confidence.

Vissel Kobe Consadole Sapporo 1-1
V: Ishibitsu 80’

C: Davi 46’

Vissel must find themselves very disappointed only to manage a draw against Consadole this match, as it was one-way traffic for the entire match towards the Consadole goal. Vissel dominated from start to finish, but didn’t have enough firepower to score a goal. Vissel even blew a penalty-kick right before the break that the once again very impressive Takagi in the Consadole saved blocked. On one of Consadole’s few attacks, Davi made it 1-0 for the visitors with a nice left-footed shot after being played through by fellow brazilian Claiton. Consadole through every men in defence after that, which made it even harder for Kobe to break them down. Consadole played a good match in defence, but their attacking play was not impressive, and the only one that really managed to pressure the Kobe defence was Claiton, who had some nice dribbling runs on his flank. Vissel finally equalized 10 minutes before the end, through Ishibitsu. With 24 shots to Consadole’s 6, the match should have been buried a long time before that though.

FC Tokyo Kawasaki Frontale 4-2
T: Capore 25’, Akamine 43’, Otake 63’, Konno 70

’K: Tese 20’ , Taniguchi 26’

Tokyo took a very impressive win over derby rivals Kawasaki this round, beating them 4-2. The match was very intense, and both teams looked vert focused and determined to win it. It was the visitors that started off the best, after North-Korean international Chong Tese gave Kawasaki the lead with a nice shot. Tokyo’s brazilian FW Capore equalized just 5 minutes later, but Kawasaki responded immediately, and were in the lead again in the 26th minute after Taniguchi reacted quickest after a mix-up ahead of Tokyo’s goal. Kawasaki defended their lead well, and came close to making it 1-3 before Akamine somehwat against the play equalized just before the break after he nicely turned away a Kawasaki defender. As the match wore on, Kawasaki seemed to run out of gas, and suddenly Tokyo were in the front seat. Otake and Konno scored 2 quick goals in the middle of the 2nd half to take the match out of reach for Kawasaki. With Tokyo having 8 shots to Kawasaki’s 12, they showed god efficiency, but a draw might have been the most fair result.

Kashima Antlers Gamba Osaka 0-0

Kashima and Gamba have had the ACL group stage to think about as well as the league, which makes their schedule a bit harder than the other teams, who only has the lowly-rated Nabisco Cup to participate in.
But despite that, both teams have had a good start to their season, and especially Kashima, who went on a 15 matches winning streak before losing to Urawa the previous round. Gamba are only 4 points behind Kashima now, who lies in 2nd place.
About the match, it was a very entertaining one, with plenty of chances and nice play from both teams. Kashima had the most possession, but they only on occasions managed to breakdown a very sturdy and tight Gamba defence. Gamba on the other hand, also had a very offensive approach to this match, with several players surging forward every time they had a counter-attack. Gamba outshot Kashima 15-11 which is a bit surprising considering how much of the ball play Kashima had. Kashima did have some big chances too, but Gamba looked the most likely winner, and probably should have won it too, as Bare had 2-3 really good attempts that werewere denied by Sogahata in the Kashima goal. All in all a draw seems the most fair result, and both teams looked good. But ahead of them now awaits 6 matches in 18 days, which definitely will take its toll on the fitness and form of the players.

Albirex Niigata Kyoto Purple Sanga 1-0
A: Alessandro 4’

Albirex took a very controversial win over Kyoto this round, after the refeeres seemingly did whatever stood in their might to deny Kyoto the points. Albirex took an early lead through Alessandro, who seems to have hit form, but after that the match turned into a comedy-show. Kyoto received 3 red-cards, plus their coach Kato were sent off for complaining about it. Neither of the sending-offs hardly qualifies for a yellow-card, and surely Kato has every right to complain about it then. First, Sidiclei received marching order in what clearly was a dive from NT-striker Kisho Yano, who probably is Japan’s most hated player now. Yano also were the ”victim” in the 2 other sendings off, after allegedly being elbowed by Ataliba and knocked down after a heading-duel by Masushima. The referee, who is in his first season as a pro-ref, clearly lost control of the match early on, and one has to wonder if he received instructions from people higher up in the J.League- organization to let Albirex win at any cost. Albirex is the 2nd most popular club in J.League, and perhaps the league sees it as too big a loss for them to play in J2. But it could just be that the referee had a bad day as well, and sloppy refereeing are common in Asia. For the match, Albirex were lucky to win even though they played 11 vs 8. That shows just how big problems they got nowadays, and Kyoto could have snatched a late equalizer if Tahara’s bicycle-kick had been a bit more precise.

Nagoya Grampus Eight JEF Utd Ichihara 3-2
N: Johsen 10’, 67’ Sugimoto 78'
J: Maki 12’, Ito 20’

Nagoya continued their great form when they beat JEF 3-2 at home this round. Once-again, Frode Johnsen got on the scoresheet and scored 2 goals. First, after only 10 minutes, when he converted a penalty-kick. But just 2 minutes later, Maki equalized for JEF with a nice volley-shot from a corner-kick. In the 20th minute, Atsushi Ito scored his first ever J.League goal after Maki had found him a with a nice cross from the left side. So, suddenly Nagoya were trailing by 1 goal, and had a difficult task ahead of them. But JEF seemed to collapse in the 2nd half, and Nagoya maned to fight back. First, Johnsen equalized with his 2nd goal of the match after some sloppy defending gave him the chance to fire off a volley-shot. 10 minutes later substitute Sugimoto once again showed his worth to the team, after he converted a pass from Tamada. Tamada might have been off-side when he received the ball, but the referee didn’t see it and the result means Nagoya still are in 1st, 3 points clear of Kashima in 2nd. JEF on the other hand, are dead-last and need to improve on their play if they wants to avoid relegation.

Friday, April 18, 2008

R6 - Match Reports J1

The biggest match of the round took place at a nearly packed Saitama, where Urawa ended Kashima’s run of 15 wins in a row. It was a tight match, which could have gone both ways. Kashima were the best side before the half, but didn’t come to that many chances despite having the ball most of the time. Urawa actually looked quite poor before the break, especially up front, where Takahara once again put in a lacklustre performance. But Nagai came in for him for the 2nd half, and suddenly Urawa had an attack again, as Nagai and Edmilson combined well on several occasions. Nagai only needed 4 minutes to score the opening goal, as Yamada found Tuli with a nice cross, who then rolled the ball over to Nagai who couldn’t miss. Kashima were still in it though, and came to chances also in the 2nd half. But right at the end, Nagai scored his 2nd, as he picked up a loose back-pass and neatly rounded Sogahata in the Kashima goal to make it 2-0. With that it’s only 3 points between the teams, and suddenly Kashima doesn’t look so unreachable anymore.

Gamba Osaka Albirex Niigata 2-2
G: Bare 3’, Endo 61’
A: Alessandro 27’,41’

Gamba could only watch in despair as Albirex denied them from a certain win as the teams drew 2-2 at Banpaku. It was a one-way street all match long, with Gamba dominating the entire match. Bare gave them the lead already after 3 minutes, after being played free by Lucas. But 2 quick goals from Albirex brazilian FW Alessandro turned the match over. Alessandro first headed in the equalizer, before he scored with a beautiful lob just before the break. Gamba did their best to equalize, and finally managed it in the 61st minute, when Endo scored with a PK. Gamba had several chances to win the game, but had to see Albirex get away with a point in the end. Gamba had 21 shots to Albirex’s 4.

Kyoto Purple Sanga Vissel Kobe 2-1
K: Tahara 5’,19’
V: Ishibitsu 78’

Kyoto impressed once again, as they beat Vissel 2-1 at home in this year’s first Kansai-derby. With that, Kyoto is placed as high as 5th after 6 matches, which is alot higher than even the most optimistic fans would have though ahead of the season. Yutaka Tahara scored two early goals for Kyoto who Vissel struggled to answer to. The match were quite even, but Kyoto’s lead never looked threatened until the last 10-15 minutes. Vissel put them under alot of pressure in the end, and managed to reduce through Ishibitsu, and came close to equalize as well. But in the end, it was a deserved win for the home team.

Oita Trinita Kawasaki Frontale 0-0

Kawasaki could only manage 0-0 away against Oita, and fell further behind the teams in the front. For a team with winning-ambitions, it’s not good enough, and Kawasaki has a tough task ahead of them if they want to fight for the top spots. Oita even had to play with 10 men for over 75 minutes this match, as Fukaya received two yellow cards early in the match. Kawasaki had several chances to win the game, and were overall much better than Oita this match. Oita defended well though, but once again played dirty and hard football that resulted in several cards.Oita werel ucky to only get one player sent-off this match.

Tokyo Verdy FC Tokyo 1-2
T: Hulk 43’
V: Hanyu 62’, Own goal 90’

Verdy’s returning start Hulk made a mark for himself in more than one way this match, as his team lost 1-2 against rivals Fc Tokyo. First, the brazilian gave Verdy the lead right before the break with a beautiful loop shot over the goalkeeper. But in injury-time in the 2nd half, he received his 2nd yellow card and were sent-off. Before that, Hanyu had equalized for the visitors with a cracking shot from distance in the 62nd minute. To make things worse for Hulk and Verdy, they scored an own-goal right after the red-card, which meant FC Tokyo could go home will all 3 points. Tokyo now lies in 7th, and came be happy with their start to the season.

JEF Utd Ichihara Omiya Ardija 2-4
J: Sakamoto 73’, Arai 86’
O: Denis Marques 21’,31’, Kataoka 88’, Pedro Junior 89’

JEF’s horrible start to the season continued when they met Omiya at home, who took a nice 4-2 win at Fukuari. It was a very thrilling match, with plenty of chances for both teams. Although JEF looked strongest in the opening minutes, it was Omiya that took the lead, through Denis Marques. Marques used his speed and technique to round off a few JEF defenders, before he placed the ball in the far-corner. 10 minutes later, he repeated it, and scored an almost exact goal to make it 2-0 for Omiya. Omiya had several big chances in this period, and could have been up by 3 or 4 goals by half-time. JEF got more into the match in the 2nd half, and reduced through Sakamoto who reacted first in a scramble in front of Omiya’s goal. Just 4 minutes before full-time, substitute Arai equalized with an over-head kick, and suddenly JEF looked most likely to win. But Omiya responded immediately, and Kataoka scored with a middle-shot that JEF’s keeper should have saved. Pedro Junior made it 2-4 in injury-time, and Omiya got away with all points.

Yokohama F Marinos Kashiwa Reysol 2-0
Y: Roni 15’, Yamase 71’

After the bitter defeat Marinos suffered at Nagoya last round, a match they deserved to win, it felt good with a win against Kashiwa at home. Marinos were by far the best tema this match, and they took an early lead through Roni, who scored his first ever goal in Japan. The Marinos playmaker Koji Yamase made it 2-0 in the 71st minute with a shot from distance. Yamase has been one of J1’s best players so far this season, and have also established himself in the national team. Before Yamase’s goal, Reysol’s Kawata received marching order which made any hopes of a comeback from Reysol slim. With the win, Marinos now lies in 3rd.

Shimizu S-Pulse Nagoya Grampus Eight 0-2
N: Ogawa 10’, Sugimoto 89’

Nagoya took their 5th league win in a row when they met Shimizu away, and with that took the first place in the table. The win were totally deserved, and once again Nagoya impressed with a tight defence and effective attack. Left back Ogawa gave the visitors the lead after 10 inutes, with a well placed shot after he had come in from the left. After the goal, Nagoya turned a bit more defensive, and denied Shimizu any chances. Shimizu’s attack once again looked out of form ,and the Nagoya defenders had en easy job neautralizing them. Right before the end, substitute Keita Sugimoto secured the win for Nagoya, with a nice solo-raid. The speedy forward broke the offside trap before he rounded Shimizu’s keeper with ease and placed the ball into the open net.

Consadole Sapporo Jubilo Iwata 2-1
C: Davi 44’, Shibata 45’
J: Kawamura 47’

Consadoles’ brazilian FW Davi, who missed the last 2 matches due to injury, were very important in their win against Jubilo this match. Davi were the biggest star for Consadole last season, but hasn’t quite made it in J2 yet or atleast before this match. Right before the break, Davi received the ball from Clayton, and scored with a beautiful header to make it 1-0. Just a minute later , Davi were on the run again, but Kawaguchi in the Jubilo goal managed to parry Davi’s volley-shot. But on the rebound, Shibata reacted quickest, and made it 2-0. Just 2 minutes into the 2nd half, Kawamura reduced, but that proved to be their only real attack the entire half, and Consadole’s lead were never really under threat.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

R7 - J2 Match Reports

Sanfrecce Hiroshima Cerezo Osaka 4-1
S: Takahagi 22’, Sato 46’,75’, Moriwaki 59’
C: Own Goal 39’

The biggest match of the round took place in Hiroshima, where Sanfrecce easily won 4-1 against Cerezo. Sanfrecce were by far the best team, and took the lead in the 22th minute through winger Takahagi, who were played free on a counter-attack. But just before the break, Cerezo equalized after Careca pressured a defender to scoring an own-goal. Cerezo didn’t look too bad in the first half, and 1-1 seemed a fair score. But Sanfrecce geared up a notch in the 2nd half, and Hisato Sato gave the home team the lead just 1 minute into the half. He later added another, and seem to be in form, which should frighthen Sanfrecce’s next opponents. Moriwaki also scored for Sanfrecce and Cerezo were really poor the last 45 minutes, and despite bringing on 2 extra forwards, they didn’t create anything dangerous. So Cerezo got some work cut out for them now, as they’ve already lost 4 matches this season. But luckily for them, most other teams have dropped several points as well, so it’s still very even.

Shonan took a very important win when they met Kofu at home last round, which put them in 3rd place. Kofu fought well, but were in the end left with nothing. Shonan took the lead 10 minutes before the break, after Ishihara had gotten loose on the right. That was one of the few big chances all first half, and the match became much more lively in the 2nd, with both teams creating several chances. Nearest came Kofu, but the deadly finishing skills they showed against Cerezo last match weren’t present this one, and in the end they lost deservedly. With that, Kofu lies in 10th place after 7 matches, which is really bad for such a big club.

Mito Hollyhock Roasso Kumamoto 2-2
M: Arata 3’, Nishino 58’
R: Kawabata 13’, Nakayama 32’

Mito played their 4th match in a row without losing, wihch is almost a club record for them. It was also their 3rd 2-2 result in a row, which is quite interesting. Roasso were actually a bit lucky that ended up with a point here, as Mito were by far the better team. Arata gave the home team an early lead after only 3 minutes, after a nice one-two with a team-mate before he coolly put the ball behind the Roasso keeper. But the visitors bounced back, and just 10 minutes later they had equalized through Kawabata. Satoshi Nakayama seems to have hit form, and scored in his 2nd match in a row with a nice header to put Roasso 2-1 up in the 32nd minute. Mito fought hard to get levelled again, and finally made it in the 58th minute, when FW Nishino scored an almost identical goal that Nakayama did for Roasso. Mito had 24 shots to Roasso’s 7, and should have buried the match.
T: Goto 83’

Sagan-fans were disappointed to see Thespa steal a point from them, when they met in Tosu this weekend. Sagan had tons of chances, but neither Kim or Taniguchi up front managed to find the net. Together those 2 FW’s had 11 shots. Therefore, the introduction and season-debut of Yoshihito Fujita, the topscorer last season and biggest star, proved to be very important for the home team. Fujita only needed 2 minutes to score, when he shot via a defender and into the net in the 68th minute. Sagan continued the pressure, but on a rare counter-attack, Thespa very surprisingly equalized Sagan’s lead, and took a very un-deserved point. Sagan had 24 shots to Thespa’s 3. The results means Sagan are the only undefeated team next to Sanfrecce, and they currently lies in 2nd place.
T: Oshima 75’

Vegalta’s one-goal-policy continued when they played hosts to Tokushima last round. Tokushima came from 2 successive wins, and as they avoided defeat here as well, they have now played 3 matches in a row without losing. Vegalta took the lead midway through the 2nd half, through MF Sekiguchi. Sekiguchi combined well with a few teammates before he put the home team up front, and the midfielder once again proved how importan he is to his team. But it didn’t take long before Tokushima were levelled again, as substitute Oshima, who had only been on the pitch for 8-9 minutes, equalized with a nice shot. Both teams could have won the match, as they both had big chances in the end. Vegalta were overall the best team though, and once again they failed to score more than one goal a match.

Yokohoa lost their first match this season when they met Montedio away. The home team were by far the better team, and took a well-deserved 1-0 win. It was a match with few chances to both teams, but Montedio dominated the possession, and also had the best chances. The only goal of the match came 4 minutes into the 2nd half, when a cross from Hasegawa found Sakai free in the box, who headed past Yokohama’s keeper. Just minutes later, Sudo were sent-off for Yokohama, which made their hopes of a come-back slim. With that, Montedio have had a good start to their season, and if they win the match they have in han,d they can climb as high as 3rd.

Avispa Fukuoka FC Gifu 1-5
A: Nakamura 19’
G: Katagiri 57’,58’, Takagi 60, Umeda 62’,84’

The biggest surprise of the round took place in Fukuoka, where minnows Gifu rose to a stunning 5-1 win away against Avispa. Avispa is rated as one of the best teams in the league, and to see they collapse as they did here is very surprising. It was Avispa that took the lead though, when Hokuto Nakamura combined with Griffths to score the opening goal in the 19th minute. Avispa were overall the best side in the the first half, but Gifu looke re-vitalized in the 2nd, and scored an amazing 4 goals in a 5 minute period. Avispa seemed stunned, and when Gifu scored even another one at the end to win 5-1 the humiliation were complete. Katagiri scored his 2 first goals of the season, while fellow FW Takagi got one. MF Umeda had to shots from distance that both went in, and were crowned MOM after the match. With this, Gifu lies 4th now, which is a major feat for such a small club.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sanfrecce Hiroshima - Cerezo Osaka Preview

Probable squads, Cerezo in red

The biggest match of the round is undoubtedly Sanfrecce-Cerezo, the 2 biggest favorites for promotion. Neither of the teams have been that good lately though, with sanfrecce drawing 2 in a row and Cerezo falling for Kofu’s tactic last round. However, Cerezo were very unlucky to lose that match, and played some very inspiring football up front.

For Sanfrecce, only Kazuyuki Morisaki is out, and they get back 2 suspended players for this match, as well as playmaker Kashiwagi, who’s fit to play now. Cerezo got a long list of if injuries now, with Furuhashi and Yanagisawa as the 2 latest additions.That means both of Cerezo’s good wingbacks are out, and for Yanagisawa Nakayama steps in, who’s good offensively but a bit fragile in defence. Furuhashi is a loss upfront, and most likely Komatsu or Kakitani will take his place alongside Careca.

Sanfrecce still opts to use Hirashige instead of Kubo alongside Sato upfront, and Hirashige have been quite good, justifying that. With a big home crowd to support them, as well as having their best players at disposal, unfrtunately I think Sanfrecce will win this one.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

ACL - match 3 reports

From Gamba-Kashima in 2006- both teams with win in ACL

Kashima Antlers - Beijing Guoan 1-0
K: Danilo 47’
Kashima had few problems beating chinese champions Beijing Guoan at home in the 3rd match of the ACL group-stage. But despite having the majority of chances and possession, Kashima “only” managed to win 1-0, which compared to the other matches this season is not too good. But a win is a win, and Kashima now have 15 straight wins in ACL and J.League, which is a realy impressive record.
Brazilian Danilo became the match-winner with his goal right after the break. Marquinhos surged forward on a counter, and found Danilo with a neat through-pass, who placed the ball to the side of the keeper. Beijing had a defender sent off in the 33rd minute, after a nasty foul on Marquinhos were rewarded with a 2nd yellow card. So Beijing had a tough task getting away with points here. The home team’s many chances usually ended up either over or outside the target, and they can only blame themselves for not winning by a bigger margin.
Although Kashima are in the front seat of this group, Beijing only need a 2 goal win to get past them, since head-to-head results counts more than goal aggregate. That means the next match is very important as well for the japanese champions.

Melbourne Victory - Gamba Osaka 3-4
M: Allsopp 4’,66’, Vargas 41’
G: Futagawa 33‘, Bare 39‘, Yamaguchi 69‘, Lucas 90’

Gamba took their 2nd 4-3 win in a row in ACL, and both victories came away. Both the win against Seongnam and this one in Australia is quite impressive, as both teams are considered to be among the better in Asia. Melbourne got off to the best start though, and took the lead after only 4 minutes. The Gamba keeper only manage to parry a shot from distance, and Allsopp reacted first and placed the ball into the open net. MF Futagawa equalied though, in the 33rd minute with a cracking shot from 25 metres out that flew into the top corner with no chance for the Melbourne keeper to save. The match were very entertaining, with plenty of chances to both teams. Brazilian striker Bare made it 2-1 for Gamba in the 39th minute, with a nice header from an in-swung corner kick. Bare used his strength to beat a couple of Melbourne defenders for the header. But just 2 minutes later Vargas scored for Melbourne, after he won a scramble inside the box following a set-piece situation. So, at half-time the teams were still even, and the match was wide open. Another set-piece and another header, this time from Allsopp, put the home team up 3-2 in the 66th minute, and the australians superior height and physique made them very dangerous on high balls. but Gamba didn’t wanted to be any worse, and like Bare’s goal earlier in the match, Yamaguchi met a corner on the first post and steered it into the goal with another header. 4 goals from headers from 4 set-pieces suggests both team’s defences needs to work on their tactic. When the match looked go end a draw, Lucas met a precise cross from Yasuda with his head, and scored the winning goal for Gamba. A real thriller of a match, where neither of the teams deserved to lose. The result means Gamba’s prospects for progressing to the knock-out stage looks very positive now.

R6 - Match Reports J2

Ventforet Kofu Cerezo Osaka 3-2
V: Uruno 12’. Josimar 36’,38’
C: Germano 58’, Careca 90’

Ventforet took their first win of the season when they beat Cerezo 3-2 at home this round, in a match filled with tons of drama, goals and cards. Ventforet were up 3-0 by half time, scoring on all their chances. First Uruno gave the home side the lead in the 12th minute, before Josimar scored 2 quick goals just before the break. That should have killed the game off, but Cerezo wanted it different ( and perhaps the referee too, who took some dodgy decisions that went into Cerezo’s favour), and did their best to fight back in the 2nd half. Both teams were very aggressive, and Kofu got 2 players sent off. The first one in the 57th minute, when Careca’s nice run where put to a halt by the goalkeeper. But the referee thought it was a defender that fouled Careca, and gave Ikehata a straight red for a foul he didn’t even commit. Germano were to take the penalty, but struck the post. He got a 2nd chance though since the ref thought the goalie had moved before Germano made his shot. Just minutes after the goal, Ventforet got a 2nd player sent off, as Akimoto received his 2nd yellow. With 11 against 9, Cerezo were in total control, and they must find themselves very unfortunate not to have ended this match as winners. Despite a constant pressure on Ventforet, they only managed one more goal, which came through Careca in injury time. Careca’s first ever goal for the club, and perhaps that’s what he need to start scoring on a regular basis, as he’s been very inefficient until now. So, a flattering result for Kofu after all, who were outshot 8-27 by Cerezo.
FC Gifu Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-1
G: Kan 60’
S: Makino 22’

Gifu put on a good show to draw frontrunners Sanfrecec at home, in a tight match that ended 1-1. Sanfrecce took charge from the start, putting the home team under pressure early on. Tomoaki Makino gave the visitors an early lead, after he met a corner with a direct shot in the 22nd minute. Gifu had some half-hearted attempts to equal that, but by half-time Sanfrecce looked to control the match. The home side looked much more positive after the break though, and it was only deserved that in-form MF Kazunari Kan equalized on the hour break, with a nice lob over the keeper.

Tokushima Vortis Avispa Fukuoka 3-1
T: Nishikawa 49’, Tamano 51’, Doumbia 67’
A: Griffiths 48’

Tokushima took their 2nd win a row with an impressive 3-1 win at home against Avispa. Following the 3-2 win away at Bellmare last round, that means Vortis now have taken 2 big scalps in less than a week.Inspired by the very impressive Doumbia, Tokushima have scored 6 goals in 2 matches, which is more than they scored in their last 14 matches all together, and clearly they are at peak form. They played some nice football this match as well, focusing on the long ball ( as Avispa did too), and the speedy runs from Doumbiua and the others up front. It was Avispa that took the lead though, through Joel Griffiths right after the break. But just a minute later, Nishikawa scores on a counter attack to make it even again, and another quick goal from Tamano meant Tokushima now had turned the game around just 3 minutes after Avispa took the lead. Doumbia was a part of both Tokushima’s goal, and midway through the 2nd half, he decided to make it himself, with a nice dribbling run before he made it 3-1. Avispa put all their big forwards on at the end of the match, but despite some dangerous headers, Tokushima could clock their 2nd win in a row.
M: Rychelly 19’,81’

Montedio took their 2nd win ( both came away) of the season when they beat Roasso 2-1 away this round. Brazilian FW Rychelly became the man of the match with his 2 scorings, which takes him away from the shadow of his compatriot Yohei Toyoda, who has been the best player for Montedio this season. Rychelly gave the visitors the lead after 19 minutes, after he used his speed and technique to go past a couple of Roasso defenders. Satoshi Nakayama ( on loan from Gamba) equalized right before the break, after a set-piece. The match shifted from side to side in the 2nd half, but Montedio were overall the best team, and their impressive forwards cause trouble for the home team on several occasions. We had to wait until the 81st minute for the winner though, when once again Rychelly got loose to fire off a shot that deflected off the goalkeeper. Roasso had 10 shots to Montedio’s 7, but the visitors deserved the win.
V: Ryan Yong-Gi 2’

The biggest match this round was the clash between Yokohama and Vegalta at Mitzuzawa, where the two promotion candidates shared the spoils in a 1-1 match. Yokohama were lucky to escape with the point though, as the visitors were the better side, creating alot of chances. But once again Vegalta showed they are having a hard time finding the net, and are yet to score more than 1 goal in a match this season. Ryan Yong Gi gave Vegalta an early lead after a Vegalta counter-attack. Yokohama were caught sleeping, and seemed to be a step behind for most of the first half really. Things got a bit better in the 2nd half for the home team, especially after the introduction of Choi, who were the most creative player for Yokohama after he came on. But it was Elizeu that equalized, afterhe poached in a free-kick from Astuhiro Miura in the 74th minute. That was the brazilian’s first ever goal in Japan. Vegalta pushed forward for a late winner, and came close on a couple of occasions. But despite having 19 shots to Yokohama’s 9, they could only manage a draw this match.

Ehime FC Sagan Tosu 1-2
E: Hoshino 78’
S: Shibakoya 23’, Taniguchi 55’

Sagan took joint 1st place after their 2-1 away win at Ehime this round, and have picked up 11 points from their first 5 matches ( as Sanfrecce). Most teams have played 6 matches already, so it’s impressive from both Sagan and Sanfrecce to be at the top with one game less. Sagan’s results hasn’t been that impressive as Sanfrecce’s though, and all their wins was by a single goal. Ehime gave them a tough match here as well, but all in all Sagan deserved 3 points. Shibakoya gave Sagan the lead after 23 minutes, when he headed home a free-kick from the right side. Ehime came close to equalize right before the break, but Kim Te-Youn’s swirling shot were saved beautifully by Akahoshi in the Sagan goal. So Sagan were up 1-0 by half-time, and doubled their lead just 10 minutes into the 2nd. 20 year old FW Taniguchi scored his 2nd goal of the season, after he met a Hidaka pass in the 55th minute. A nice finish from the youngster, who have done a very good job filling Fujita’s shoes this year. Ehime got one back 12 minutes before full-time, after Hoshino headed home a corner-kick. Both teams had 13 shots, but Sagan were the best team and deserved the win.
S: Lincoln 81’,86’

Shonan bounced back from the humiliating loss against Tokushima at home last round, with a 2-1 away win at Thespa. They struggled to break down the tight Thespa defence though, and apart from some nice ballwork from playmaker Adiel, they didn’t create much dangerous in the first half. Neither did Thespa, who focused on counter-attacks. They took the lead in the 70th minute through Terada, who finished off a beautiful attack from Thespa where Shimada were the one with the assist. Shonan looked to be in trouble now, but a late double from brazilian Lincoln tipped the game over into the visitors favour. Thespa received a PK after Lincoln’s 2nd goal, which also resulted in a red card for Jean Carlo Witte. But unfortunately for the home team, they didn’t manage to score from the spot, and Shonan won the match 2-1.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

R5 - Match Reports J1

Plenty of reasons to cheer for for these die-hard Gamba fans

Vissel Kobe Tokyo Verdy 0-1
T: Kawano 37’
Verdy took a somewhat surprising 0-1 win away at Kobe last round, but it was totally deserved. Vissel was a step behind almost through the entire match, and the shot statistic ended 7-27. The returning hero Hulk had 12 shots himself, and compatriot Diego had 7, but neither of the brazilians managed to score. Instead, it was the youngster Kawano that became the hero of the match, with his first ever J.League goal in the 37th minute. Kawano, who just turned 18, reached a loose cross from the right first, and with a direct shot he gave the visitors the lead. Enomoto in the Kobe goal was caught wrong-footed, and he should have anticipated the shot earlier and probably have made the save.
Verdy pushed further on in the 2nd half, and created chance by chance. Especially after some fancy dribbling from both the wings and the offensive midfielders, who ran circles around the Kobe defenders. Things got even worse for Vissel when their star player Yoshito Okubo received marching order midway through the 2nd half, and since their other top striker Leandro already was injured, all the firepower up front was gone, and will be gone for their next match as well. So the last period of the match became an easy one for the visitors, who could clock a very well-deserved win.

Albirex took their first point of the season in the 0-0 draw away at Reysol. A pretty strong result for the away-side, and they could easily have won it too. Both teams had a fair share of chances, and the speedy forwards on both teams caused trouble for the defences. Albirex made a few changes for the 2nd half, which led to them taking more and more over after Reysol had marginally been the better team in the first half. But a lack of accuracy in the finishing saw the match end scoreless, a result neither of the teams can be particularly happy with.

Kyoto took a very impressive and somewhat suprising 1-0 away win at Kawasaki, who was big favorites for this match. But the internal problems within Kawasaki which also caused Hulk leaving for Verdy, seemed to affect their play this match, and despite having almost double the shots of Kyoto, they played generally a poor match. Neither of the Kawasaki FW’s managed to find the net, and Kyoto punished them late in the match to win the game. Former NT striker Atsushi Yanagisawa became the hero for Kyoto, as he scored a nice goal to steer Kyoto 7th in the table. Kyoto are one of the biggest surprises so far this year, and have played some impressive football. Their new signings have all been very good for the team, and 8 points in 5 matches is more than most fans hoped for. Kawasaki on the other hand, disappointed, and are already 8 points behind frontrunners Kashima. That might prove a hard gap to close for Frontale, but once they hit form and all their players are injury-free, they will surely be tough to beat.

Gamba Osaka Shimizu S-Pulse 2-0
G: Yamaguchi 36’, Bare 44’

Gamba took their 4th win in a row, inclduing the 4-3 win away at Chonbuk in ACL, and seems to be in very good form now. The Bare/Bando/Lucas combination up front have started to give results, and they look a very tough team to beat now. Against Shimizu, it was the CB Yamaguchi that broke the deadlock though, with a nice header from a cornerkick in the 36th minute. The impressive wingback Yasuda had the assists, and Yasuda were a constant threat from his left-side position. Bare doubled Gamba’s lead right before the break, which left Shimizu’s prospects of a point looking very slim for the 2nd half. They did create some though, especially from crosses, but either Mizumoto and Yamaguchi managed to clear the high balls, or else Shimizu’s finishes where too poor. Gamba had 16 shots to Shimizu’s 6, and deserved the win. Perhaps it should have been by a bigger margin though.

Nagoya Grampus Eight Yokohama F Marinos 2-0
N: Johnsen 32’, Sugimoto 89’

Nagoya’s fabulous run continued when they beat a tough Marinos side home with the score of 2-0.Nagoya now lies 2nd, only 2 points behind front-runners Kashima. Stojkovic’s team have been very impressive, having scored the 2nd most goals, and conceding the 2nd least.
The win against Marinos were a bit fortunate though, as the visitors had by far the most chances, including a couple of shots that bounced off the posts. Frde Johnsen gave the home team the lead in the 32nd minute, after he met a low cross from the left and scored from short range. Marinos tried to reply immediately, but winger Hayuma Tanaka’s shot were stopped by the very impressive Seigo Narazaki. The Nagoya goalkeeper came up with many first-string saves, and were crowned the man of the match. Marinos managed to beat him a couple of times though, only to be denied by the woodwork. First, Hideo Oshima tried to place the ball into the top-corner, but hit the bar instead, and just minutes later, Koji Yamase as well hit the bar with a powerful shot on blank goal. So Marinos were by far the dominating team, and Ngoya must find themselves fortunate to end up as winners here. With just a few minutes left, Nagoya launched a counter-attack, and the speedy Keita Sugimoto came one-on-one with the Marinos keeper, and neatly rounded him to place the ball into te open goal. Shot statistic: 9-17.

Tokyo took their 2nd win of the season when they beat newcomers Consadole 1-0 at home last round. The match were pretty one-sided, with Tokyo having the most of the chances and probably should have won by a bigger margin. FW Capore gave the home side the lead in the 12th minute, after he met a floating pass and scored with a neat finish. That proved to be the only goal of the match, despite the home team having plenty of big chances. Sapporo tried to score from a couple of counter-attacks, but never really got near an equalizer. For the first match this season, Tokyo’s defence looked quite good, and they deserve credit for keeping a clean sheet here. Capore now have 2 goals to his tally this season, and has proved himself important to Tokyo’s attack. Tokyo had 17 shots while Consadole had 8.

Kashima Antlers JEF Utd Ichihara 4-1
K:Tashiro 16’, Marquinhos 26’, Sasaki 79’, Koroki 85’
J: Maki 89’

Kashima took their 14th win in a row when they beat JEF 4-1 at home last round, and seems invincible. NT striker Yuzo Tashiro gave the home team the lead after 16 minutes, when he cut in from the left and struck well to make it 1-0. 10 minutes later, Marquinhos made it 2-0, after being beautifully assisted by Takuya Nozawa. JEF looked very aggressive from early on, but the 2 goals from Kashima literally killed the game off, and JEF slowed things down a bit. In the 2nd half, JEF tried to win momentum again, and made a couple of offensive changes which meant they played with 4 strikers for the entire 2nd half. That led to a couple of chances, especially from Baba and Kokeguchi, who both played good matches, but neither of them managed to find the net. As the match drew close, and JEF got more and more desperate for a goal, Kashima took their chance and scored 2 more goals within 6 minutes, through substitutes Sasaki and Koroki. Koroki scored with one of his very first touches after being subbed in in the 78th minute. JEF got a penalty in injury-time, which Maki easily converted. Atleast that saved some face for JEF, which didn’t play a bad match, actually outshooting the league leaders 12 -9.
U: Abe 71’, Tulio 79’

Urawa took their 3rd win in a row last match, when they overcame Jubilo away with a 2-1 win. With that, Urawa now lies in 5th, and have established themselves on the top half of the table already. They are 6 points behind Kashima though, but with Urawa meeting Kashima at home next round, that gap might be reduced to 3 points soon. They got off to a poor start against Jubilo though,who played a good match and took the lead already after 3 minutes play. Yuichi Komano raced down the right flank and with a pin-point cross found Gilsinho in the box, who scored with a diving header. Komano had many nice runs down his flank, and created some dangerous chances for Jubilo. Gilsinho came close a 2nd goal right before the break, but his chip shot just stroke the outside of the post. Urawa didn’t look too good the first half, and the biggest chance they had were a shot from distance from Umesaki that Jubilo’s keeper had to push to a corner. After 71 minutes, Urawa finally managed to equalize, after having missed a few chances earlier in the half. It was the two centrebacks Abe and Tulio who combined well up front, with Tulio finding Abe with a header who took a direct shot straight at goal. A bit odd that 2 DF’s were so high up in the pitch, but that’s just a part of Urawa’s free-flowing football. 8 minutes later, Tulio were once again racing forward, and met a beautiful cross from LW Hirakawa with a nice header that made it 2-1 for Urawa to enormous joy from the thousands of Urawa ans who travelled to Iwata for this match. A draw might have been the most fair result, but Urawa showed great team-spirit to come from behind and turn the match over.

Omiya Ardija Oita Trinita 2-0
OM: Saito 44’,74’

Omiya took their 2nd win this season, when they deservedly beat visitors Oita at home with the score 2-0. MF Masato Saito became the hero for the home team, with 2 neat goals that earned Omiya a much-needed 3 pointer. With just 4 points from their first 4 matches, Omiya needed a win here to stay clear of the bottom. They changed a few members since their last match, and the replacements did a solid job filling those roles. Most important were of course Saito, who first gave Omiya the lead after 44 minutes with a beautiful taken shot some 20 metres out that flew past the Oita keeper. The match were quite intense, with a lot of rough play, and especially the visitors had some nasty tackles. That didn’t prevent Saito from making it a double though, and in the 7th minute he scored his 2nd goal of the day, after the Oita keeeper had to give a rebound from a Denis Marques shot. Both teams had a total of 11 shots each, but no doubt that it was Omiya that deserved the lead. Oita on the other hand, has lost 3 in a row now, and will probably face a tough battle against relegation this season.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

R4 - J1 match reports

Consadole Sapporo Kawasaki Frontale 0-2
K: Chong Tese 7’,49’

Frontale beat Consadole away with ease last round, taking their 2nd win a row and climbing to 5th place in the table. With Hulk gone and their 2 other strikers injured, Chong was the only regular FW left, and he became the star of the show with 2 beautiful taken goals. First, in the 7th minute, Chong was played free by Nakamura and hammered in the opening goal with a powerful shot. Consadole didn’t play their best match, and came to very few chances, and it was deserved when Chong were on target again 4 minutes into the 2nd half, with another cracking goal. One of the main factors why Kawasaki are so highly regarded this season is their promising attack, and even though Hulk is gone, Juninho and Ganaha injured, they got Chong left to score goals, which might turn out to be a key thing later this season. Most other teams might not have such equally good strikers, and are very vulnerable to injuries to their regular. For Kawasaki, they can afford to lose a man or two, as the cover players are capable of filling their shoes anyway. A well-deserved win for Kawasaki, who despite their slow start seems to be heading for a good season this year.

Kyoto Purple Sanga Kashiwa Reysol 0-1
Ka: Tadanari Lee 23’

Kyoto lost their first match of the season, when Reysol visited Nishikyogoku Stadim last round. It was a fierce match, with both teams having some big chance, but Lee’s goal after 23 minutes became the only scoring of the match. Lee’s goal came after a nice cross from Mobara, and Lee’s shot was both powerful and well-placed, leaving Kyoto’s keeper with no chance of saving it. Kyoto tried to change formation to break down the Kashiwa defence, but the nearest they got were a shot that struck the bar and came out again. Both teams looked aggressive out there, and Kyoto alone had 4 warnings. I guess Reysol were fortunate to win it, as Kyoto had both the most shots and the biggest chances. But either way a good result for Reysol, who now have 2 wins and 2 losses so far.

Omiya Ardija Nagoya Grampus Eight 1-2
O: Tomita 26’
N: Masukawa 56’, Magnum 57’

Nagoya’s marvellous start to the season continued when they met Omiya away, and the 2-1 places them in the 2nd place of the table. Nagoya ”owned” the match almost from beginning to end, and had a string of chances that were either scraping the posts or saved beautifully by Ezumi in the Omiya goal, who so far have been J.League’s best keeper. Omiya took the lead after 26 minutes, after an in-swung corner found Tomita at the back who struck directly to score the opening goal. A bit against the play, and Omiya were lucky to be in the lead at half-time. Nagoya kept their momentum in the 2nd half ,and inspired by Magnum they were soon to fight back with 2 quick goals. First in the 56th minute, when Frode Johnsen found Masukawa with a passing header who made no mistake with Ezumi. Just a minute later, Magnum’s powerful shot flew into the top corner without a chance for Ezumi to save, and finally Nagoya were in the lead. Nagoya kept pressing, but Omiya weren’t all lost themselves, and had a couple of big chances at the end that could have scraped a point. Nagoya had 20 shots to Omiya’s 12. So, that means 3 wins and a draw after 4 matches for the visitors, but last year their start was even more impressive, with 12 points at this stage of the season and alone at the top of the table. There’s a big chance they might fall apart this season as well, but they look a better team now under Stojkovic, and if they manage to ride the good wave they’re at now, a top 5 finish might be realistic. Compared to last season, Magnum is the only played that has strengthened the team though.

Yokohama F Marinos FC Tokyo 3-0
Y: K.Yamase 46’,89’, Lopes 57’

Marinos impressed with a fine 3-0 win at home vs FC Tokyo last round, and bounced back from the bitter defeat at Kashima a week ago. All of Marinos’s goals came in the 2nd half, and the match weren’t as one-sided as the scoreline suggests. Tokyo had 11 shots while Marinos had 19. Koji Yamase was once again the star for Marinos, with 2 goals and 1 assists this match. The first goal, straight after the break, were a nice solo-raid that were finished with a right-footed shot that Tokyo’s goalie couldn’t keep put. 10 minutes later Yamase found new signing Lopes from Vegalta, who headed home his first ever goal for Marinos. In between the goals, Tokyo had a shot that struck the woodwork, and if that shot had gone in the match could have becom alot different. Yamase rounded off a superb display right before the end with his 2nd goal of the match.

Albirex Niigata Kashima Antlers 0-2
K: Tashiro 15’,Nozawa’50

In Niigata Kashima stretched their winning-streak to take an impressive 13th win in a row, and looks invincible at the moment. Albirex became atleast one number too small for them this match, and were lucky not to lose by a bigger margin. Tashiro gave the away team the lead in the 14th minute with a diving header from a Uchida cross, and from that moment on Kashima’s lead never looked threatened. That was Tashiro’s first goal this season. 5 minutes into the 2nd half Ogasawara and Nozawa combined well to make it 2-0, but only 10 minutes later Motoyama received marching order for an incident that didn’t even look like a foul. That caused Antlers to slow down, and ride their 2-0 lead. The time that happened, Albirex were under immense press, and the win would probably have been bigger if it wasn’t for the sending-off. Albirex have now lost all 4 matches this season, and face an uphill battle if they want to avoid the drop.
V: Suzuki 88’

JEF are still without a win after the 1-1 draw vs Kobe at home, and stand with a mere 2 points so far. Kobe are one of 3 teams still unbeaten, and can be happy with their start to the season. Defender Saito gave JEF an early lead with a nice finish from a Mirko Hrgovic crss in the 3rd minute, and we had to wait until the very end for the next goal. The match were pretty evenly contested, and Kobe’s attack suffered from the loss of Leandro. Yoshito Okubo didn’t have the best day, and failed to hit the target with any of his shots. MF Suzuki lined up for a free-kick 35 metres out with 2 minutes left to play, and he sent away a cracking shot that flew straight into the corner to give Kobe the equalizer. JEF had 11 shots while Kobe had 12, and a draw was the most fair result.

Shimizu S-Pulse Urawa Red Diamonds 1-2
S: Fujimoto 10’
U: Nagai 59’, Edmilson 70’

Urawa took their 2nd win in a row, and seems to have recovered from their early slump in form. Led by an inspiring Edmilson, and 2nd half substitue Umesaki, Urawa turned around 0-1 to win the match with 2 nice goals. Shimizu battled hard, and played a decent match, and took the lead after only 10 minutes with a beautiful taken shot from distance by MF Fujimoto. That was the only goal we saw in the first half, and the introduction of Umesaki at half-time proved to be vital for Urawa, as he contributed alot in their offensive play. Urawa’s first goal was a bit lucky, as after some mess inside the Shimizu box Nagai finally steered the ball over the line. The other one was nicer, as Edmilson scored his first league goal of the season for Urawa. Both teams had 13 shots each, but Urawa were overall the best team.

Tokyo Verdy Jubilo Iwata 1-2
T: Hiramoto 79’
J: Gilsinho 8’, Own Goal 64’

Verdy are still without a win after their 1-2 loss against Jubilo at home, and stands with a single point after 4 matches. Then it’s good news for them that brazilian Hulk has returned to the club, who almost on his own lifted the club from J2 to J1 last season. Jubilo’s brazilian Gilsinho gave the visitors the lead after only 8 minutes, after Kono dribbled his way through before finding the unmarket Gilsinho who made no mistake with the keeper. Verdy put on a reasonable good display here, and came to several chances after the early goal, and probaby deserved atleast a draw by half-time. An unlucky Verdy played put the ball into his own net in the 64 minute after a cross from set-play, and now Verdy’s chances for a point looked slim. Hiramoto put one back in the 79th minute after combining with Diego, but despite of a strong finish Verdy lost their 3rd match of the season.
O: Kanazaki 37’
G: Bare 12’,75’

Oita’s fortunes seems to have changed, and after a good start they have now lost their last 2 matches. They gave Gamba a hard fight here though, and only a brace from brazilian Bare secured the win for the title contenders. Bare gave Gamba an early lead after finishing from a corner, but Mu Kanazaki equalized right before the break for the home team. Oita looked quite good in the first half, and could easily have been in the lead. Gamba took a bit more over after the break though, but we had to wait until the 75th minute before the 2nd goal, which also came from Bare who scored with a beautiful taken volley-shot.
Gamba, as well as Urawa and Kawasaki, seems to have bounced back from their disappointing start and seems strong enough to be up there fighting for ACL this season as well.