S-Pulse 2-0 Nagoya
GK K. Yamamoto
DF Bosnar (yellow 33)
FW Brosque (yellow 80)
Edamura on for Ono (90)
Nabeta on for Brosque (92)
What a difference a year makes. No need to beat about the bush - that was one of the best performances I've seen at Nihondaira in my seven years behind the goal. Add to that kebabs, sunshine, a full house, catching up with mates, and winning a few quid on the game, all that's missing is a late night visit from Aoi Miyazaki to top off the perfect day. As that probably ain't gonna happen, I'll have to call it a near perfect day, but they come around so rarely it'll more than do.
We controlled this one from the start. Ono and Ljungberg started together for the first time, and both played the full 90 minutes. It was a partnership which works. We had two veteran midfielders with pure footballing minds working together to run the game. Just as important was Jong a Pin's immense presence playing just behind Freddie and Shinji. He's a big, strong player and more than once today, to all intents and purposes, walked up to a Nagoya player, took the ball off him and began a forward move.
Nagoya may lament that they had a bad game, but they weren't allowed to play. We pitched it just right with a combination of pressing the away team, putting them on the back foot, and making them rush their decisions. They kept losing possession or ended plays empty handed. Add to that the forward thrust of Jong a Pin, Ono and Ljungberg's touch and vision, and we were creating chance after chance. We also managed to miss several ridiculous opportunities to open the scoring, but they came at such frequency that the law of averages meant we finally broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute from Omae's header.
The moment of the match came ten minutes later when Freddie ran at a defender on the right wing, knocked it round him with a touch so perfectly weighted that he could sprint around the back peddling white shirt, pick up the ball, take it to the byline, and cross it in for Brosque to strike home and win the game. It was a fitting end to a display of quality from S-Pulse against, not a team struggling with relegation like Yamagata or Urawa, but the defending champions. Credit where it's due, because I'm quick to moan when things don't go well, but Ghotbi got it spot on today. We were bloody brilliant. Patient when it was needed, stampeding forward when able.
I can't finish without mentioning Jungo Fujimoto. He did nothing of note, was deafeningly booed at every touch, was subbed on the hour, and failed to realise we were taking the piss when singing his name at full time. He was the villain of the piece, and played it perfectly. :) Night night.
Plenty of needle made it feel like a derby
Having fun there, Jungo?
Who da man? You da man
Our second, with Ljungberg's quality assist. The move started by Jong a Pin's dispossessing of the Nagoya player.
Some highlights taken off the big screen: