S-Pulse 3-0 Kashima
DF Jong a Pin
Takahara on for Ono (66)
Kobayashi on for Omae (75)
Nabeta on for Takagi (88)
Report - Deer Hunting
Beating Jubilo comes head and shoulders above everything else, but a notch or two along the list is doing Kashima. On Saturday we didn't just beat them, we handed their arses back to them on a plate. A brilliant performance, and might easily have been four or five.
Our opener didn't take long. A swift exchange of attacking passes resulted in a cross dangerous enough for Kashima defender Iwamasa to make such a hash of things that his interception was in fact a fierce strike at his own keeper. Sogahata did great in stopping the shot, but Ito was hand to stab home the loose ball. 1-0. Ito will benefit from this goal, and fair play to him. He earned it over the 90 minutes.
Kashima got more of the play after that, but with Jong a Pin, The Wall, holding things together at the back the visitors only managed one shot the whole first half. In the next 45 they put four efforts in on goal, but the second half happened to be one of the best we could have played. Quick, exciting, dynamic and most importantly, fruitful. Given the way we came out like a pack of rampant lions, the only surprise was how long it took for us to extend our lead.
The pace of the first 15 minutes was something incredible. Instinctive passing and speedy movement off the ball that Antlers just didn't deal with. Three or four times we found ourselves deep in the Kashima penalty area and they barely escaped each time. The closest shave being when Toshiyuki slammed a shot against the bar, but he wasn't going to be denied. In the 70th minute he moved into his favourite zone on the edge of the area, and under pressure from two defenders, picked his spot with all the composure of Cantona. The youngster curled it into the one possible square inch of space between the post and the full stretch Sogahata, then walked to celebrate with his team mates like it was the most natural thing in the world.
If last season was Takagi finding his range (I read somewhere he had among the most shots on goal of anyone, but the fewest ratio of goals), then this year he's showing ominous signs of knowing exactly where the target is, and not being afraid to hit it.
Just moments later, in a goal not dissimilar to one against Jubilo, Takagi closing down the left weighted a perfect cross into Omae who had worked himself free in the area. Unlike derby day Genki used his foot instead of his head, but the result was the same. He whipped home a perfect volley to make it three and pretty much game over.
Cue party time on the terraces and even with 15 minutes left and the game as good as won the boys made no signs of letting Kashima off lightly. It may well have been four or more. This hunger is fantastic to watch and bodes well for the coming top of the table clash against unbeaten Sendai this Sunday.
It's been a top class Golden Week so far, now can we finish it off on the 6th with a victory in Miyagi? Well, Brosque is back from suspension and fully rested. Ono will be ready to join in, if not for the full 90 then at least an hour. Takagi is firing on all cylinders and working up a lethal partnership with Genki. Jong a Pin is solid as a rock, Iwashita is keeping a lid on his temper and his game is coming on as a result. Hayashi is doing a great job in goal. In short, of course we're going to win on Sunday!
Highlights. Watch for yourself the orange machine in full effect (against a team that won 5-0 last week, no less).