S-Pulse 2-1 Kashima Antlers
Fujimoto 37 (pk) -------- Korogi 58
MF Hyodo (yellow 63)
MF Ono (yellow 20)
Edamura on for Ono (73)
Ito on for Hyodo (78)
Some nights are just magic.
Despite my best intentions, it's hard not to feel slightly awed by Kashima. Their constant strength over the last 17 years which has seen them claim seven J1 titles is something very hard to ignore, and while we went into yesterday's game with no fear, there was a tangible tension around Nihondaira in the build up to kick off.
Not only was the result massive, so was the performance. We could, and maybe should, have won this more comfortably. More than once we cut through the Kashima defence and were only denied by some uncharacteristically un-deadly finishing from Okazaki and / or inspired goal-line defending / goalkeeping.
So our winner, while a bit lucky (chested in by Edamura after a failed clearance), was fair on balance. We took the lead after an absolute gift of a penalty. A needless handball off a free kick into the area left Jungo with the job of calmly sending the keeper the wrong way.
Kashima should have opened the scoring before this after a shocking clearance from Nishibe went straight to a white shirt, but Iwashita, who will be an international before too long, did amazingly well to neutralise a very real danger deep in the penalty area. Without Bosnar at the back we lacked a bit of physical presence, but Hiraoka did a good job in the Ozzie's absence.
These are the games we have to win if we want to have a decent pop at the title, but more than the big ones, we have to keep this form up in the "lesser" games, namely another sold out match under the lights at Daira next Saturday. 9th placed Yokohama FM are the visitors.
Before I sign off, a couple of facts and a picture: Last season we scored 44 goals all season. This year at the halfway stage we're already on 37. Last season we won 13 games all year. This year we're on 10 already.
And now the picture:
And so you can get the feeling of being there, this is Jungo's penalty from ssnnddttyy's personal cam:
And Edamura's winner: