アデレード・ユナイテッド (Adelaide United) 1 名古屋グランパス (Nagoya Grampus) 0

Dragan Stojković and his Nagoya Grampus team were left to reflect on what might have been had they taken one of many chances and not faced an opposition goalkeeper in Eugene Galekovic who was in excellent form and who produced one of the saves of the tournament so far. Instead, one of the three Japanese sides through to the knockout stage bade farewell to the 2012 AFC Champions League, losing to a 42nd minute goal from Adelaide United defender Jon McKain, who scored in slightly fortuitious circumstances.

After Grampus goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki had been forced to push behind a teasing cross from the effervescent left-midfielder Iain Ramsay, Dario Vidosic’s corner was headed goalwards by Nigel Boogard, the defender another Reds player who acquitted himself well during this match. Taking a deflection off Daniel, McKain somehow managed to insert himself in between Shohei Abe at the back post and Narazaki, to find the touch needed to send the ball into the net and out of reach of Josh Kennedy’s desperate goalline lunge.

Beyond Fabian Barbiero passing up a glorious opportunity of wrapping up victory seven minutes from the end of play, picking up a loose ball on the edge of the Grampus eighteen-yard box and haring past Takahiro Masukawa before blazing over Narizaki’s crossbar, and a thunderous twenty yard strike from substitute and Adelaide favourite Sergio Van Dijk which didn’t dip enough and cannoned back off the woodwork, control of the tie, most particularly in the second period, was largely that of the visitors.

Eight minutes of the first period remained when Jungo Fujimoto and Josh Kennedy linked well on the left, the Australian striker unselfishly pulling the ball back for Keiji Tamada when he could have taken the option to shoot, but his fellow forward lashed his shot over the crossbar under little pressure and when he should certainly have found the target.

On 63 minutes Fujimoto, whose set piece delivery would trouble United regularly during the course of the contest, bent a free-kick beyond the penalty spot, Masukawa meeting the ball but directing it too close to Galekovic from eight yards. While the keeper did well to scoop the ball behind for a corner, the defender failed to place the ball in the yawning gap to Galekovic’s left, and surely would have scored with a more precise finish.

Masukawa nearly made amends fifteen minutes from time, as he intercepted to the right of the Adelaide eighteen yard area and whipped a delivery that substitute Mu Kanazaki, who surprisingly replaced Keiji Tamada at half-time, attempted to steer into the net with a falling header, but again Galekovic pushed it away from goal.

Moments later Masukawa was again involved, this time to Grampus’s deficit, a Fujimoto corner from the right finding Kennedy’s head on the edge of the six yard box. It was on the way to goal when it was diverted away from danger by the defender’s shoulder, and Tulio was unable to apply the necessary contact amid complaints that he had been pulled down by Bruce Djite, a potential offence being one of many missed by official Abdul Malik who proved maddeningly inconsistent over the 90 minutes.

Fujimoto came within inches of levelling for his side in the dying moments of the match. Evan Kostopoulos, who had only been on the pitch for ten minutes, gave away a free-kick 25 yards from goal in stoppage time. With Malik failing to add additional time on to the three already specified while ensuring the United defensive wall had retreated to the required distance, it became Grampus’s last chance of the match. His set piece cleared the wall, but while Galekovic was beaten on this occasiion, the ball clipped the wrong side of the right upright.

The goalkeeper’s best moment was reserved for the first half, however, and it came seven minutes before McKain had bundled home. A wicked delivery from Shohei Abe was headed downwards by Kennedy, who would have been convinced that he was going to score. Galekovic confounded his expectations with an extraordinary reaction save, flinging out a strong palm to turn the ball high behind for a corner and drawing admiring comparisons to Gordon Banks’s famous stop from Pele in the 1970 World Cup, and he then immediately followed up with two punches to clear dangerous crosses from either side of the penalty area.

It was fitting that the final action of the match would see the ball in man of the match Galekovic’s hands, before he cleared long downfield and started his team’s celebrations. In his most-match comments Stojković paid tribute to United’s stopper, saying “[He] was absolutely fantastic today, the most valuable player and hero of the game – his saves were incredible.” Grampus now face the challenge of attempting to qualify for the 2013 incarnation of the competition, the most immediate task being to break out of the number of teams around the relegation places, and only then building a series of results which could see them challenge for the top four when J.League Division One resumes on 16 June.

Adelaide United Nagoya Grampus
Goalscorers Min Goalscorers Min
Jon McKain 42
Substitutes Min Substitutes Min
Zenon Caravella
Sergio Van Dijk
68 Keiji Tamada
Mu Kanazaki
46
Dario Vidosic
Evan Kostopoulos
82 Taishi Taguchi
Hayuma Tanaka
68
Bruce Djite
Teeboy Kamara
88 Kensuke Nagai
Teruki Tanaka
72
Cautions Min Cautions Min
Zenon Caravella 54 Daniel 74

Adelaide United: 4-1-4-1 (Red); Nagoya Grampus: 4-3-3 (Grey)

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AFC Champions League: Round of 16 live-blog – Adelaide United v 名古屋グランパス (Nagoya Grampus)

0 Min: Adelaide United and Nagoya Grampus do battle for a quarter-final place in the AFC Champions League today, the single tie elimination round taking place at the Hindmarsh Stadium courtesy of the Reds winning Group E, four draws for Grampus one of the main reasons why they failed to win Group G. The teams are as follows:

0 Min: Adelaide United – Galekovic, Boogard, McKain, Mullen, Cassio, Caravella, Vidosic, Djite, Ramsay, Barbiero, Fyfe

Substitutes – Van Dijk, Golec, Watson, Birighitti, Usucar, Kostopoulos, Kamara

0 Min: Nagoya Grampus – Narazaki; Tanaka Tulio, Masukawa, Abe, Daniel; Fujimoto, Ogawa, Taguchi; Tamada, Kennedy, Nagai

Substitutes – Takagi; Ishibitsu Tanaka H; Kanazaki, Tanaka Teruki, Alessandro Santos; Maki

0 Min: The players are out on the pitch, Josh Kennedy sharing a few words with some of his fellow Socceroos. We’re about three minutes from kick-off, captains Eugene Galekovic and Tulio Tanaka contesting the coin toss.

1 Min: Referee Abdul Mailk from Singapore blows his whistle, and it’s Josh Kennedy and Keiji Tamada who get the match underway.

2 Mins: A poor start for Grampus, Tulio bringing down Bruce Djite in a very central position 25 yards from goal after ceding possession from the kick-off. Cassio and Dario Vidosic are over the ball to take left-footed, five men in the wall.

2 Mins: It’s Vidosic who strikes, bending right-footed over the wall but it floats clear of Seigo Narazaki’s crossbar.

5 Mins: Grampus comfortable in posession around the defence and midfield, but Adelaide are not pressing beyond their own half and are winning possession cheaply as Grampus enter Australian territory.

6 Mins: After winning the ball from Josh Kennedy, a fine pass from midfield by Dario Vidosic is swung right to left to Iain Ramsay, who controls before firing high and wide on the left edge of the penalty area.

7 Mins: Ramsay then crosses into the eighteen yard box searching for Djite, but it’s a comfortable take for Narazaki.

9 Mins: Keiji Tamada and Jungo Fujimoto exchange passes around the box, Tamada choosing to clip the ball into the six yard area with the outside of his left foot, and it’s cleared behind for a corner.

9 Mins: Fujimoto’s corner is dangerous, but it’s headed clear across goal. Tamada appears to be brought down, but instead Grampus are penalised for a challenge by Daniel.

10 Mins: Ten minutes played, it’s Adelaide United 0 Nagoya Grampus 0.

12 Mins: A talking to is required for Zenon Caravella, who is very lucky to escape a yellow card for a challenge in midfield. The set piece forty yards from goal comes to naught.

15 Mins: Disappointing from Keiji Tamada. Grampus have a 3v3 scenario from 35 yards, but Tamada’s pass is listless and knocked back to goalkeeper Galekovic to clear.

16 Mins: Caravella is penalised for another infringement on Taguchi.

17 Mins: There are some interesting decisions being made by referee Malik at the moment.

19 Mins: The game has gone rather quiet at the moment, though it’s notable that Adelaide are seeking to use Iain Ramsay on the left at every opportunity, perhaps in the belief that he has the better of the Grampus right-back.

23 Mins: Nagoya nearly find a way through, but after a clever turn from Kennedy to deceive an Adelaide defender, he can’t find the burst of pace needed to reach the throughball before Galekovic.

24 Mins: Daniel is deemed to have brought down Djite 25 yards from goal, this free-kick further to the right but still in a very good position from which to test Narazaki. The set piece is a complete waste, as Vidosic falls to connect properly with the short lay-off.

27 Mins: Masukawa has a chance from distance, Abe finding Nagai inside the penalty area, but as he feeds the right-back eighteen yards from goal, he drags the shot wide of Galekovic’s right upright.

28 Mins: Djite wins another free-kick from Daniel, both players holding each other’s shirts but it’s the Grampus defender who is penalised.

29 Mins: Iain Fyfe barges into goalkeeper Narazaki with little chance of winning the ball, Malik choosing to have a chat with the bearded defender but no more.

31 Mins: After Tulio is beaten coming out of defence in midfield, he recovers well to stop Djite’s cross from the right finding an Adelaide player.

33 Mins: A beautiful sweeping crossfield ball should be controlled by Yoshizumi Ogawa on the right touchline, but he is unable to bring the ball down and it goes harmlessly for a throw-in to Adelaide.

34 Mins: A magnificent save from Eugene Galekovic stops Josh Kennedy from giving Grampus the lead. Abe’s cross is superb, and Kennedy heads downwards anticipating the ball finding the net. Galekovic’s reactions are superb and he sends out a strong left palm to push behind for a corner.

35 Mins: Two consecutive crosses are then punched away by Galekovic, before a third clears his crossbar to ease the pressure on Adelaide United.

37 Mins: Good link play between Fujimoto and Kennedy gives Tamada a chance to score, but he lifts it over the bar. The midfielder really should have found the target. Grampous domination of the match now clear, but a failure to take their chances against a defence which has conceded few could be costly for Stojkovic’s side.

39 Mins: Another save by Galekovic, this time an easier take as Kennedy flicks on but Tamada can’t find the power to put it past the Adelaide stopper sliding in on goal.

40 Mins: Five minutes left in the first period, it’s Adelaide United 0 Nagoya Grampus 0.

41 Mins: A testing delivery from Ramsay gives Adelaide their first corner of the match, Narazaka tipping behind under his crossbar.

41 Mins: GOAL! What did I say about failing to take chances? Entirely against the run of play, Adelaide take the lead. Defender Jon McKain appears to get the final touch on the ball after Boogard heads the corner goalwards. It glances off Daniel, and the Australian is able to get his body between Narazaki and the ball to deflect the ball home, Josh Kennedy unable to clear off the line.

41 Mins: Adelaide United 1 Nagoya Grampus 0

44 Mins: It could be two. Djite’s cross is flicked backwards by Cassio, and Vidosic chooses to attempt to volley first time. Fortunately for Grampus it’s left of Narazaki’s goal.

45 Mins: One minute of added time to play, and half-time can’t come soon enough for Grampus.

45 Mins+1: And that’s it for the first-half.

HT: Adelaide United 1 Nagoya Grampus 0

HT: It was a difficult goal to concede in the circumstances, Adelaide perhaps lucky to have the run of the ball in the goalmouth, but Grampus would not need to reflect on being a goal behind had they taken the chances with which they had been presented. Manager Stojkovic will certainly be happy with the overall standard of Grampus’s play and their practical total domination of the opening 45 minutes, but he now has one period in which to find a response to ensure his side’s continued participation in this tournament.

HT: Mu Kanazaki is on for Keiji Tamada.

46 Mins: The Reds begin this second half. Can Grampus make their quality pay in this final 45 minutes?

48 Mins: Taguchi and Caravella are continuing their chat in the opening minutes of the second period, Taguchi going down in seeking a free-kick from Fyfe.

49 Mins: No Grampus player is willing to attempt a shot as they pass he ball in and around the penalty area, and Adelaide eventually clear, Djite brought down by Daniel who is perhaps fortunate to escape a booking.

50 Mins: Grampus head clear at the set piece, and they have the opportunity to build again as Djite is several yards offside as the ball is sent back in to the Grampus eighteen yard area.

51 Mins: A clever touch from Fujimoto allows Kanazaki to shoot from the edge of the area, and he tries to side-foot into the bottom right-hand corner. Unfortunately for Kanazaki it’s weak and too close to Galekovic.

53 Mins: Caravella is finally booked as Kanazaki bursts clear of him on the left-wing, Malik belatedly showing a yellow card.

54 Mins: A superb challenge for Boogard prevents Kennedy from getting away as he was winding up for the shot.

56 Mins: Masukawa bundles over Djite. The diagonal ball from forty yards is cleared away. Djite claims to be blocked off inside the box by Tulio and no longer in control of the ball, but the official waves away appeals for a spot kick.

61 Mins: Taguchi tries his luck from 35 yards, but it’s several feet over Galekovic’s crossbar.

63 Mins: After Djite clips Tulio from behind, Fujimoto swings the ball into the penalty box left-footed, Galekovic makes another stop. Masukawa, unmarked six yards from goal, places his header in one of the few areas in which he can make a save when directing it to his right would almost certainly have levelled the scores.

67 Mins: Into the final quarter of the 90 minutes, it’s Adelaide United 1 Nagoya Grampus 0.

67 Mins: Kennedy sends a header clear of the crossbar. A difficult chance for the Australian under pressure from Boogard.

68 Mins: The popular Sergio Van Dijk replaces Zenon Caravella for Adelaide.

69 Mins: And Van Dijk exits the field, the officials not happy with either his boots or some loose strapping on his leg. Yosuke Taguchi is replaced by Hayuma Tanaka in the meantime.

70 Mins: The final twenty minutes, and Grampus have had the best chances of this half. Another one ay present itself after Vidosic gives away a free-kick 37 yards from goal. It’s a good cross from Fujimoto aimed at Tanaka, but Nigel Boogard does very well to head away and subsequently complete the clearance.

71 Mins: Teruki Tanaka is on in the final substitution for Grampus, Kensuke Nagai makes way.

72 Mins: The yellow card count is equal, Daniel booked for one of several fouls on Djite.

74 Mins: Cassio brings the ball across the penalty area, but Narazaki is untroubled as the midfielder is off-balance and skies his shot.

75 Mins: Galekovic saves his side again. Kanazaki’s superb low cross is knocked away, but Masukawa’s cross then finds Kanazaki. It’s high but straight at the keeper who reaches to push over his crossbar.

76 Mins: Tulio believes he is pulled down from behind by Djite at Fujimoto’s corner, but if it was an offence, it goes unnoticed by referee Malik.

79 Mins: Grampus are laying siege to the Adelaide defence, Tulio noticeably higher up the field as they seek out a goal. Nagoya may be in difficulty if Adelaide are able to counter quickly.

80 Mins: The last ten minutes of the second half begin with Adelaide on the offensive, winning a throw-in deep in Grampus’s half.

81 Mins: Dario Vidosic is off for Evan Kostopoulos.

83 Mins: Barbiero has the simplest of chances to secure a quarter-final berth for his side, but having beaten Daniel inside the penalty area, he blasts over from short range.

84 Mins: Hayuma Tanaka blocks Iain Ramsay’s cross for a corner. The official spots an offence in the area, allowing Narazaki to clear long downfield. With added time, there are probably nine or ten minutes left in this match.

86 Mins: CROSSBAR! Adelaide cleverly keep hold of possession, Fyfe heavily involved, Van Dijk then shooting left-footed from 20 yards but slamming against the crossbar, the ball just not dipping enough.

88 Mins: Djite’s match comes to an end as he jogs off the field, Teeboy Kamara on for the final five or six minutes.

90 Mins: Normal time is up. And there will be only three minutes to final the single goal to force extra-time.

90 Mins+1: Kostopoulos gives away a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Can Fujimoto find the net?

90 Mins+2: The referee is pushing the Adelaide wall back. Fujimoto to take ….

90 Mins+3: POST! Galekovic is beaten, but Fujimoto finds the outside of the right upright. So, so close. But it looks like Grampus are beaten.

90 Mins+3: The three minutes are up and the ball is in Galekovic’s hands. He boots downfield. And it’s all over.

FT: Adelaide United 0 Nagoya Grampus 1

FT: Stojokovic and his team will be left to reflect on what might have been, missed opportunities, wasted possession and an excellent performance from Eugene Galekovic in the Adelaide United net denying them what might have otherwise been a straightforward march into the next round. Stojkovic now must focus on attempting to qualify for next year’s competition, not an easy feat given Grampus’s poor form in the J.League and breaking clear of sides close to the relegation places his most immediate task.

FT: Thank you for joining me. A match report will follow later today.

AFC Champions League: Round of 16 live-blog schedule – Adelaide United v 名古屋グランパス (Nagoya Grampus)

Three Japanese teams are in AFC Champions League action this week, and Nagoya Grampus will be the first to attempt to qualify for the quarter-finals as they travel to Australia to meet Adelaide United on Tuesday 29 May for the single-tie elimination contest.

United’s progress through the competition has been interesting, a third placed-finish in the 2010-11 season enough to secure their place in the tournament, but they were elevated to an automatic group position only after China’s Liaoning Whowin and Indonesian club Persipura Jayapura had withdrawn their participation. They made the most of the opportunity, topping Group E and losing only once on the way to the Round of 16, and will provide a stern test at the Hindmarsh Stadium.

The two draws Dragan Stojković’s side completed versus Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma cost them the chance of winning Group G outright, particularly allowing Héverton’s 93rd minute equaliser on Matchday One, and which prompted the trip overseas. They may need to be ruthless with any openings which come their way against a defence which only conceded two goals across their six group games, though they may be encouraged by a team whose form in the Champions League has not been replicated in the domestic competition. That, however, could apply equally to Grampus themselves.

Join me from 10:30 BST/19:30 JST when I’ll be covering the match in full here at Football Japan, with kick-off scheduled for 11:00 BST/18:00 JST. I do hope you can join me for this encounter.

AFC Champions League: Group E Matchday Six Round-up and Results

(Highlights of the 2-0 victory versus Gamba Osaka which gave Adelaide United a home berth in the Round of 16. United will meet Group G runners-up Nagoya Grampus on 29 May in the one-off elimination match)

Having seen their interest in the 2012 AFC Champions League end following their 2-0 defeat at the Pohang Steel Yard on Matchday Five, Gamba Osaka entertained Adelaide United at the Osaka Expo ’70 Stadium with little more than their pride to play for.

Manager Masanobu Matsunami chose to field a young, experimental side in front of a crowd numbering little more than 7,000. Unfortunately for Gamba the changes failed to enliven a team which has suffered across all competitions in 2012, and they crashed to their fifth defeat in six group matches, conceding twice in the second half including an Akihiro Sato own goal while failing to score any in reply.

With the Suita side’s J.League campaign floundering it seems likely that Gamba will not appear in the 2013 tournament, and Matsunami now must endure what is likely to be a very difficult Matchday Twelve fixture against a revitalised Yokohama F-Marinos at the Nissan Stadium.

Adelaide United, who needed to take all three points to be assured of topping Group E, will host Nagoya Grampus at the Hindmarch Stadium on 29 May for a place in the quarter-finals.

Group E

Gamba Osaka Small Gamba Osaka 0 Adelaide United
Van Dijk 65′
Sato 87′ (O.G.)
2
FC Bunyodkor
Gafurov 48′
1 Pohang Steelers 0
Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Adelaide United 6 4 1 1 7 2 +5 13
2 Bunyodkor 6 3 1 2 8 7 +1 10
3 Pohang Steelers 6 3 0 3 6 4 +2 9
4 Gamba Osaka 6 1 0 5 5 13 -8 3