Sendai 0-1 Shimizu S-Pulse
------------------------------- Omae 40
DF Jong a Pin (57, 68)
FW Omae (53)
FW Takagi (62)
Ito on for Franca (51)
Kobayashi on for Kawai (66)
Hiraoka on for Takagi (71)
Report - A Truly Golden Week
First of all, the red card on Jong a Pin was complete, utter, crap. Wilson was running alongside Jong a Pin and into another white shirt when he clearly realised he wasn't going anywhere. Cue a drop to the floor, the ref fooled, a second yellow for Jong a Pin, and us down to ten men. Credit where it's due (although it feels like thanking a killer for sparing you) referee Ryuji Sato didn't give any of the dives in the box in the last ten minutes. And there were a lot. Topping the list, Wilson again. A cross was swung in, and as it sailed harmlessly over everyone's heads, the Brazilian just fell over. Just fell over. Nobody touched him, was looking at him, or even heading in his direction. HE JUST FELL OVER AND APPEALED FOR A PENALTY. Absolutely shameless, but mercifully ignored by the officials.
But I don't want to dwell on the negatives. Sendai are a good team. The attack well and defend deep. It was clear to see why they have been unbeaten this season. Coming into this game after two in the previous seven days, our squad depth was coming to the fore. Brosque was back in, as was Franca. Ono was rested completely, Ito back on the bench.
The game was only 13 minutes old when a storm rolled in, turned the sky pitch black and pelted the teams with hail the size of marbles. After a 45 minute break, the teams were back out. The pitch had patches of standing water as the hail had given way to a steady rain, so the passing game of both teams was effected. We broke the deadlock through what is becoming a familiar story. Takagi lofted a perfect ball over from the left to the waiting Omae. This time it was met by Genki's head, and bosh. 1-0. That's the third time this season that combo has borne fruit.
That was not long before half time, and so it was at the break. The second half Sendai had a lot more possession from the off, but Lee's brilliant reading of the game coupled with Jong a Pin and Iwashita solid presence in the centre kept the home team largely reduced to long range efforts. Our three Golden Week games have ended at an aggregate of 5-0, and our stingy defence is the basis of those nine points. Hayashi made several crucial stops today, the best perhaps being when a freekick wasn't cleared and he got down low to stop a point blank shot on goal. Another huge performance, and makes you wonder why he was playing in the Belgian third division.
After that harsh, harsh, harsh red card, it was inevitably all hands on deck trying to keep out the home team. Until then we were positive and threatening with both side backs instrumental in our attacking movements. This will be the last time I say it this season: Ota isn't being missed at all. Local lad Yoshida and Lee are doing sterling jobs as side backs, both defending and attacking. Nor is Ljungberg's sudden departure preseason anything of an issue. We've rolled with the punches and come out stronger. The Tokyo game and now today showed how our character and mental strength has come on in leaps and bounds. Not to mention the physical stamina required to successfully see out games when outnumbered.
And now I'm clearly rambling, so I'm going to wrap it up, but what a brilliant Golden Week it's been. Being the first team to beat Sendai takes us to within two points of them at the summit of the table. The boys now get five days to prepare for Cerezo Osaka (who lost at home today) this Saturday. No Jong a Pin thanks to that red card, but apart from that, no injury worries. A chance to go top! See you at Nihondaira.
Takagi --> Omae. Getting something of a habit with these two. Full highlights here (embedding disabled for some reason).