0 Min: Good morning, and welcome to today’s live blog in which I’ll be covering the match between league leaders Vegalta Sendai and an FC Tokyo side which has begun its return to the top tier of Japanese football in excellent fashion. I’ll have team news for you very shortly.
0 Min: Vegalta Sendai – Hayashi; Sugai, Kamata, Uemoto, Park; Tomita, Kakuda, Ota, Sekiguchi, Wilson, Akamine
0 Min: Substitutes – Sakurai; Uchiyama, Tamura; Matsushita, Ryang; Muto, Yanagisawa
0 Min: FC Tokyo – Gonda; Tokunaga, Morishige, Jang, Ota; Takahashi, Yonemoto, Ishikawa, Otake, Hanyu; Watanabe
0 Min: Substitutes – Shiota; Maruyama, Mukuhara; Tanabe, Yazawa; Hirayama, Lucas
0 Min: So Makoto Teguramori makes a single change to the team which defeated Kashiwa Reysol 3-2 on Matchday Six, Toshihiro Matsushita dropping to the bench to make way for the returning Makoto Kakuda. FC Tokyo boss Ranko Popović rewards Yohei Otake and Kazuma Watanabe for their sparkling performance in the 3-0 AFC Champions League victory versus Beijing Guoan, replacing Sotan Tanabe and Lucas respectively.
0 Min: It’s a cloudy but dry and mild night at the Yurtec Stadium, and the sights of Vegalta’s flags waving in the wind are met with the sounds of the away section singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.
0 Min: FC Tokyo get this match underway, and are immediately on the attack.
2 Mins: Shingo Akamine takes the first shot of this match, from a very tight angle with few options in support, and it is gathered easily by Shuichi Gonda.
5 Mins: FC Tokyo probing around the Vegalta Sendai midfield, Yohei Otake clearly fouled but the referee giving the decision to the home side.
7 Mins: A looping header from Shingo Akamine after Yoshiaki Ota corner on the right which clears Gonda’s cross bar.
8 Mins: A long ball from defence by Jiro Kamata to Wilson requires a touch by Kosuke Ota, and it is a second corner for Vegalta. The header from the right is out for a goal kick, though it appeared to take a touch from the away side. Gonda takes the kick quickly.
9 Mins: Vegalta pressing high up the field, and FC Tokyo are struggling to find possession at this early stage. However, Takai Uemoto slices a clearance and the Gas have a corner. The set piece fails to clear the first defender, however, and Vegalta break.
11 Mins: Half-hearted appeals for a penalty from Vegalta which seemed a reasonable shout. A pass from Wilson is knocked on to Yoshiaki Ota, and cutting across the penalty area from the right touchline his left-footed shot meets with an FC Tokyo hand. The deflection sends the ball to the right corner of goal, but Gonda gathers under pressure from a Vegalta player.
14 Mins: An interesting tactic from Vegalta. The midfield line presses high any time the FC Tokyo defenders are in possession in their own half, and Wilson and Akamine are very quick to close down players on the ball.
17 Mins: Some odd decisions in this match, Naohiro Ishikawa having both ankles clipped but the referee fails to spot the infringement.
18 Mins: Makoto Kakuda goes into the book for a challenge on Shuichi Gonda, the Under-23 Samurai Blue goalkeeper’s reaction entirely at odds with what seems a fairly attempted header, and he jumps quickly back to his feet once the yellow card is shown.
23 Mins: Vegalta Sendai certainly the more comfortable side in possession at this stage, but very few opportunities created by either stage mid-way through the first period, best summed up by a wild Takuji Yonemoto shot from 25 yards which sails over Takuto Hayashi’s crossbar.
25 Mins: Yoshiaki Ota is felled by Kosuke Ota in the right corner near the touchline, but he gets up to play a low cross in the penalty area. Honest play from the midfielder, who could otherwise have stayed down and almost certainly have seen the FC Tokyo left-back booked.
26 Mins: Naoki Sugai is found in space on the Vegalta right, but with plenty of time to swing in a cross it’s sent over the goalline for Gonda to clear.
27 Mins: A free kick for Vegalta on halfway after Shingo Akamine is tripped by Hideto Takahashi. It’s played long to the edge of the FC Tokyo penalty area, and cleared by Hyun-Soo Jang.
29 Mins: A strong run down the right by Yohei Tokunaga is brought to an end by equally strong defending from Ju-Sung Park, who marshals the ball out of play for a goal kick to the home side.
30 Mins: Hideto Takahashi leads with an elbow in Wilsn’s back, and Yoshiaki Ota has a set-piece 10 yards inside the FC Tokyo half. There’s a half-chance for Makoto Kakuda to take it on the volley, but he mis-hits his shot and the danger is subsequently cleared.
34 Mins: Another stoppage in quite a niggly, stop-start game, Shingo Tomita giving away a free-kick on halfway.
35 Mins: Jiro Kamata receives the second yellow card of this match for a high foot which connects with Kosuke Ota’s face. It’s a nasty looking challenge and Ota requires some treatment. After a couple of minutes Ota is back on his feet but will need to come off to clean up what is a blood injury. The away side temporarily down to ten men.
37 Mins: Naohiro Ishikawa bends in a cross from the left touchline, which bounces through to goalkeeper Takuto Hayashi.
39 Mins: A surging run from Wilson through the FC Tokyo midfield is stopped by an excellent sliding challenge from Hideto Takahashi.
40 Mins: Five minutes remaining in a scrappy first-half, it’s Vegalta Sendai 0 FC Tokyo 0.
43 Mins: Shingo Akamine receives the ball in the penalty area following a lovely cross from Yoshia Ota from the right touchline, but his attempted flick over Hyun-Soo Jang doesn’t come off.
44 Mins: A superb block from Shingo Tomita stops Hideto Takahashi getting a shot away.
44 Mins: Naoki Sugai is limping but looks to carry on until half-time for treatment. He hobbles to the touchline to receive some treatment.
45 Mins: Yohei Otake goes into the book for FC Tokyo.
45 Mins+2: GOAL! Jiro Kamata’s free-kick is floated into the 18-yard box, and Shingo Akamine beats the offside trap with two FC Tokyo players appealing for a decision, cooly controlling before slotting his shot past Gonda into the bottom left.
45 Mins+2: Vegalta Sendai 1 FC Tokyo 0
45 Mins+2: That’s the last action of the first period as the referee blows his whistle for half-time.
HT: That goal has enlivened an otherwise dreary affair, a terrible time for FC Tokyo to concede. Questionable defending from Hyun-Soo Jang, who dropped off Akamine in attempting to play offside.
45 Mins: Back underway in this match.
46 Mins: Wilson has to check his run in attack and a good through ball runs on to Gonda.
47 Mins: Yoshiaki Ota has the ball in the FC Tokyo net, but he is clearly offside in receiving Wilson’s delicate pass through the Gas defence and the goal is correctly ruled out for offside. Warning signs for the away team, however, two breaks down the left in quick succession nearly finding a way in behind the back four.
50 Mins: Kosuke Ota is shown a yellow card in the Vegalta penalty area, his touch to bring the ball on to his right foot is too strong and he follows through on Shingo Tomita. Quite an officious decision.
51 Mins: FC Tokyo have a free-kick in a dangerous area. Jiro Kamata moves away to allow Naohiro Ishikawa to set up for the set piece 15 yards from the Vegalta area. His cross to the edge of the penalty area is headed well wide by Kazuma Watanabe.
52 Mins: Taikai Uemoto is now shown a yellow card. Both sides racking up cards for rather innocuous offences.
54 Mins: Several changes to note. Naoki Sugai could no longer continue at half-time, and was replaced by Naoya Tamura, and goalscorer Shingo Akamine also came off for Toshihiro Matsushita. FC Tokyo have made all three substitutions at this stage, Takuji Yonemoto, Yohei Otake and Naotake Hanyu exiting the field Sotan Tanabe, Tatsuya Yazawa and Lucas on in their place.
57 Mins: GOAL! Kunimitsu Sekiguchi bravely puts his head to the ball under strong pressure from Morishige, and it is beyond Gonda’s right hand after a superb cross.
57 Mins: Vegalta Sendai 2 FC Tokyo 0
61 Mins: FC Tokyo not finding their passing range today. Substitute Lucas, in-field, tries to switch play to the right wing, but it is just too heavy for Yohei Tokunaga, who would have been able to break. Another pass is too strong for Ishikawa, who turns away from the goalline with a rueful smile on his face.
65 Mins: A corner for Vegalta Sendai, taken by Matsushita, is punched well-clear by Gonda.
67 Mins: CROSSBAR! Gonda is almost deceived by a free-kick from the left channel by Matsushita, and what seems a deliberate attempt on goal is pushed on to the crossbar by the goalkeeper and over for a corner.
67 Mins: Mid-way through the second-half, it’s still Vegalta Sendai 2 FC Tokyo 0 .
71 Mins: Lucas is booked for a clear dive in the Vegalta penalty area. Naohiro Ishikawa plays a pass from the lef of the penalty area which the Brazilian touches away from Takuto Hayashi and then falls to the floor with a theatrical tumble. No complaint regarding the decision from the Brazilian.
75 Mins: Referee Tojo reaches into his pocket again, showing Wilson a card for a late challenge, before sending FC Tokyo manager Ranko Popovic to the stands for dissent.
76 Mins: GOAL! An attempted shot from outside the penalty area from Vegalta, and although going wide it is controlled by Yoshiaki Ota, who is clearly onside, and he turns and fires a low shot under the body of Gonda.
76 Mins: Vegalta Sendai 3 FC Tokyo 0
78 Mins: Lucas and Ishikawa exchange passes on the edge of the penalty area, Ishikawa’s left-footed cross on the turn met by the Brazilian but it is weak and past the right post.
81 Mins: Into the final 10 minutes, and I don’t remember FC Tokyo having one shot on target in this match. A poor performance from the Gas, outmusculed in all areas of the field and unable to deal with Vegalta’s pressing.
83 Mins: Tatsuya Yazawa wins a corner for FC Tokyo, which he takes. Bent along the six yard box, it is easily caught by Hayashi.
85 Mins: Lucas has beaten Vegalta’s offside trap, but he is on his heels as the pass was made from Yohei Tokunaga and the ball is collected by Hayashi.
86 Mins: A free-kick deep in FC Tokyo territory for Vegalta. Two players are over the ball, but it will be taken by Toshihiro Matsushita.
86 Mins: GOAL! Matsushita’s cross drops to Lucas, and although his shot across the angle is met with a good save from Gonda, the rebound falls kindly to Jiro Kamata who smashes it home from close range.
86 Mins: Vegalta Sendai 4 FC Tokyo
88 Mins: Vegalta readying their final substitute, North Korean international Yong-Gi Ryang coming on for Yoshiaki Ota, which is received rapturously by the Vegalta fans.
90 Mins: We’re playing added time at the Yurtec.
90 Mins+2: Pressure from FC Tokyo but it’s all too late, and any attempts to penetrate the defence are met with solid defending.
90 Mins+4: Two Vegalta Sendai corners are cleared, both won by Wilson, and referee Tojo blows the whistle to bring this match to an end. Vegalta were certainly worthy winners against an FC Tokyo side seemingly bereft of ideas.
FT: Vegalta Sendai 4 FC Tokyo 0
FT: Thank you for joining me. A full match report will follow later today.