Two defensive lapses either side of the half-time break handed Jubilo Iwata their second consecutive defeat, goals from Jungo Fujimoto and Kensuke Nagai giving a competent but uninspiring Nagoya Grampus team the three points, and delivering a jolt to any championship pretensions the Shizuoka Prefecture side may have. Compounding Jubilo’s difficulties was the early enforced substitution of goalkeeper Naoki Hatta, damaging a finger after colliding with teammate Yuichi Komano inside seven minutes, and after lengthy treatment for what appeared to be either a dislocation or break, saw him replaced by Akihiko Takeshige, whose contribution would prove critical to the outcome of this contest.
The match appeared to be heading in to the interval with both sides level, but an ill-timed and unnecessary challenge by Tomohiko Miyazaki two yards outside the Jubilo penalty area gave Grampus an opportunity to test Takeshige right on the stroke of half-time. Organising a five-man wall, with Josh Kennedy, Daniel and Mu Kanazaki positioning themselves in front of the defensive line, Takeshige made the fatal error of moving too early from the unguarded area of his net, giving Fujimoto a large area at which to aim and which he duly took advantage of. As Fujimoto curled his shot left-footed over the wall the stopper was unable to regain the ground he had lost between the posts, and make what would have otherwise been a relatively straightforward save.
It was unfortunate that the 24-year old’s loss of concentration would cost his side so dear as referee Toshimitsu Yoshida signaled for the end of the first period, only ten minutes earlier making an exceptional save to deny Kennedy a header from a set-piece, diving to his right to push the Australian striker’s header wide of his goal, and having dealt with a number of shots and Grampus’s menace at crosses comfortably to that point.
Ironically, it was the break for the introduction of the second-choice goalkeeper that appeared to allow the visitors to settle, struggling initially to cope with the high-intensity pressing of Dragan Stojković’s men, the combative defensive midfielder Taishi Taguchi and the forward Kensuke Nagai particularly prominent in winning a number of challenges across the field, while collectively they frequently forced Jubilo to turn away from goal into playing long passes and ultimately ceding possession. Signs of Grampus’s early domination were abundant elsewhere, a booking for right-back Komano after only four minutes had elapsed and Nagai passing up a very presentable opportunity on eight minutes, moments after Tulio had headed wide with Hatta missing an attempted punch.
As Jubilo began to settle, Samurai Blue forward Ryoichi Maeda had an opportunity to put his side in front, a fine exchange of passes between Yuki Kobayashi and Ryohei Yamazaki putting the ball into the path of the 30-year old, but off-balance and under pressure, he lifted his shot over the bar from 16 yards. With nearly half an hour played, Yuichi Komano then smashed a vicious swerving shot with the outside of his right boot against Seigo Narazaki’s left upright, the ball cannoning to safety, and the defender was perhaps unlucky not to be rewarded for the sense of adventure which saw him operating at times as an auxiliary right-winger.
However, while Jubilo began to probe in midfield and play passes between the lines, Suganuma and Yamazaki finding teammates with quick touches and excellent movement, there was little penetration from their output. Komano had many opportunities to deliver crosses on the overlap or from set pieces, but both Tulio Tanaka and Daniel at the heart of the Grampus defence were the equal of any aerial threat posed by Hitoshi Morishita’s players, with only Maeda, an ephemeral danger in attack, able to evade their physical presence. Eleven corners and several free-kicks saw Narazaki troubled very little.
The second goal, which came within thirty seconds of the re-start, snuffed out any hopes of a Jubilo fight-back, apathetic defending making the move one much too simple in execution. A one-two between Kensuke Nagai and Fujimoto allowed the former Vissel Kobe player to burst between Cho Byung-Kuk and Yoshiaki Fujita, and he stabbed the ball through Takeshige’s legs to double Grampus’s advantage. A Morishita substitution nearly provided Grampus with a third, choosing to move the ever-willing Komano into midfield to accommodate Shunya Suganuma. While Komano had been very effective in thwarting the darting runs of Mu Kanazaki, the 22-year old replacement was vulnerable and beaten on a number of occasions, one instance seeing the nominal centre-back left on the ground as Kanazaki sent a cross low along the six yard box, only the right upright preventing Fujimoto from scoring his second of the match as he steered his shot past Takeshige.
Away from the comforts of the Yamaha Stadium Jubilo have been victorious just twice to date, and if they are to revive the glories of the 1997-2003 period this season, they will be required to re-produce the quality which has seen them drop only four points at home. A stern test of their credentials awaits in the coming fortnight, as they welcome FC Tokyo to Shizuoka on Matchday 16, followed by a trip to Hiroshima where Sanfrecce lie in wait a week later. Grampus, meanwhile, are in the top half of the table for the first time since Matchday Nine, and sit only three points behind third-placed Urawa Red Diamonds.
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