In a tight, tactically interesting affair light on entertainment, Nagoya Grampus limited their own attacking instincts and shackled Vegalta Sendai to record their first goalless draw of the 2012 campaign at the Toyota Stadium, and prevented Makoto Teguramori’s men from scoring for only the third time this season.
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.
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|
Sergio Van Dijk
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.
(A fan in the Yurtec Stadium captures Ryang Yong-Gi’s 38th minute opener for Vegalta Sendai, giving the home side the platform to run out 4-0 winners and extend their lead at the top of J.League Division 1 to five points)
Vegalta Sendai ruthlessly exploited Nagoya Grampus’ lack of composure in front of goal and defensive frailities to run out 4-0 winners at the Yurtec Stadium, in a match the visitors could quite easily have been leading at half-time. Grampus Manager Dragan Stojković will bemoan his side’s inability to convert their domination of possession, territory and chances, both Taishi Taguchi and Josh Kennedy having opportunities to properly reflect their side’s superiority, while poor decision-making in midfield prevented the guests from further benefitting from their authoritative display in the first period.
Although Vegalta had provided a warning of their ability to counter-attack with Sekiguchi’s astonishing miss from two yards, the opening goal seven minutes before the interval was unexpected and almost entirely against the run of play. Shingo Akamine, stationed on the left, clipped a pass for Sekiguchi to run on to, which deflected off Hayuma Tanaka. The right-back was the clear favourite to pick up the loose ball, but inattentive and careless in not noticing the Vegalta left-winger behind him, Sekiguchi’s acceleration allowed him to burst clear. Driving into the penalty area, his low cross was blocked away by Seigo Narazaki, but fell kindly to Ryang Yong-Gi to drive low into the goal at the near post. Narazaki, who had done so well to prevent Sekiguchi from finding a teammate inside the penalty area, had recovered his position and may consider himself at fault for allowing the North Korean international to beat him on his right-hand side so easily.
Having taken the advantage and fortunate not to be going into the interval behind, Vegalta benefitted from a dreadful Takahiro Masukawa error on the stroke of half-time to double their lead, dealing a significant blow to any possibility of a Grampus fightback in the second period. Five minutes had been added on owing to a serious injury to Danilson and the consequent enforced substitution, and Grampus were required to defend two corners in quick succession. Ryang’s second delivery found a deep-lying Shingo Akamine, and aided by some very poor positioning on the part of Kensuke Nagai, the forward headed back across goal. Facing his own net, Masukawa attempted to clear behind for a further corner, but merely succeeded in diverting the ball via his thigh over the head of Jungo Fujimoto on the goal-line.
As fortunate Vegalta had been to be ahead at the break, defending more compactly and better able to withstand any Grampus attempts to bring themselves into the match, they proved devastating on the counter-attack for a third goal which put the result beyond any doubt. Grampus centre-half Tulio Tanaka, taking up a familiar advanced role in search of gaining a foothold in the match, strode down the left-wing before cutting past Makoto Kakuda on the edge of the penalty area. His right-footed shot was through the legs of Takuto Hayashi, but a superb clearance on the goal line from Jiro Kamata led to Yoshiaki Ota receiving the ball on the right just inside the Grampus half. The 28 year-old midfielder skipped inside Daniel, and he found the perfect defence-splitting pass to send Wilson clear between Hayuma Tanaka and Takahiro Masukawa, the Brazilian finishing with aplomb low to Narazaki’s right from twelve yards. Wilson had been anonymous for most of this contest, his contribution to this point limited to twice appealing for penalties under the most minimal of pressure, but he underscored his importance to this Vegalta side with a clinical finish.
Naoki Sugai completed the scoring as the match entered added time, and Grampus were again at fault from a set piece. As an outswinging Vegalta corner curled into the penalty area from the right, Makoto Kakuda ran to the edge of the six yard area unimpeded, rising above Masukawa to powerfully head downwards. Narazaki made an excellent reaction stop diving to his right, but Sugai followed-up to send the rebound home.
With Shimizu S-Pulse defeated earlier in the day by Urawa Red Diamonds, Vegalta’s first victory in May allowed them to move five points clear of S-Pa and Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who joined the Shizuoka Prefecture side on 22 points following their 3-2 victory over Vissel Kobe.
|Vegalta Sendai||Nagoya Grampus|
|Makoto Kakuda||58||Tulio Tanaka||37|
0 Min: Vegalta Sendai have the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of J.League Division 1 to five points, after Shimizu S-Pulse fell to a 1-0 defeat away to Urawa Red Diamonds. However, while the Miyagi Prefecture outfit have led the table for a prolonged period, they are yet to win a fixture in May, and face a Nagoya Grampus side now able to give their full attention to the domestic campaign on the back of a 3-0 victory over Central Coast Mariners which ensured their progress to the latter stages of the AFC Champions League. Stay with me as I bring you team news from the Yurtec Stadium, on an overcast but relatively mild evening in Sendai.
0 Min: Vegalta Sendai – Hayashi; Sugai, Kamata, Uemoto, Tamura; Tomita, Kakuda, Sekiguchi, Ryang Y-G; Wilson, Akamine
Substitutes – Sakurai; Watanabe, Uchiyama; Matsushita, Ota; Muto, Yanagisawa
0 Min: Nagoya Grampus – Narazaki; Tanaka Hayuma, Tanaka Tulio, Masukawa, Abe; Taguchi. Danilson, Fujimoto; Nagai, Josh Kennedy, Tamada
Substitutes – Takagi; Daniel, Alessandro Santos; Yoshimura, Tanabe; Kanazaki, Tanaka Teruki
0 Min: Vegalta Sendai supporters have launched into a stirring, full-blooded rendition of the club anthem “Take Me Home, Country Roads”. Incredibly impressive.
0 Min: Both sides have taken to the field, the routine handshakes are undertaken, and the captains Ryang Yong-Gi for Vegalta Sendai and Seigo Narazaki for Grampus decide the coin toss, in a match which will be overseen by Masaaki Uemoto.
1 Min: Nagoya Grampus kick-off, and a long pass from midfield runs all the way through to Takuto Hayashi in the Vegalta goal, who clears downfield for a Grampus throw-in.
2 Mins: Kensuke Nagai finds teammate Jungo Fujimoto on the right, and he plays the ball off Jiro Kamata to earn his side a corner, which Fujimoto takes.
3 Mins: Shingo Tomita heads away for another corner at the near post. The second delivery is headed clear of the penalty area, and although Kennedy makes a clean connection with his shot from the edge of the area, it’s blocked and Vegalta clear.
6 Mins: It’s a positive opening from Nagoya Grampus.
10 Mins: Taishi Taguchi heads narrowly wide of Hayashi’s right upright.
15 Mins: Danilson has a set piece from 35 yard, awarded after Taikai Uemoto had been deemed to be holding Josh Kennedy, and Vegalta choose to only place two men in the wall. Danilson’s strike clears the wall easily, and although headed straight at Hayashi, the goalkeeper fumbles, and Makoto Kakuda is required to knock the ball away for a corner to tidy up with Kennedy and Takahiro Masukawa looming.
18 Mins: A terrible miss from Kunimitsu Sekiguchi after excellent play from Shingao Akamine and Ryang Yong-Gi. Akamine’s pass down the left channel released Ryang, and his pass across the six yard area was weighted perfectly for Sekiguchi to tap-in from two yards. Astonishingly, he knocks the ball wide.
20 Mins: Twenty minutes played, it’s Vegalta Sendai 0 Nagoya Grampus 0.
22 Mins: It seems Grampus are going to be forced into making an early change. Danilson, whose knee buckled in a challenge with Shingo Timota, signals to the bench that he can no longer continue. He exits the field on a stretcher, and is replaced by Keiji Yoshimuira.
26 Mins: Josh Kennedy and Keiji Tamada exchange passes, Kennedy bringing the ball down wonderfully from Tamada’s lobbed ball, but the volley is mis-hit and it’s well wide of Hayashi’s right upright.
28 Mins: A player from either side are down on the field, Tulio Tanaka who took a kick to the foot in challenging for an earlier ball with Akamine, while Taikai Uemoto struggles to his feet after an off-the-ball incident with Kennedy.
30 Mins: Nagoya Grampus have five attempts on goal thus far, the home side with just one. Ryang Yong-Gi attempts to even up the count a little as he delivers a set piece from forty yards deep into the penalty area, but Akamine is unable to reach it and the ball is over the touchline for a goal-kick.
32 Mins: Keiji Tamada surges down the left-wing past Naoki Sugai, before turning back and passing to Jungo Fujimoto two yards infield. He finds Shohei Abe, whose vicious cross is superbly headed away by Naoya Tamura.
34 Mins: This is a very dominant performance from Grampus at this stage. The early enforced absence of Danilson has done little to blunt the attacking flair of the forward three, and Keiji Yoshimura is proving a more than capable deputy.
36 Mins: A lovely turn in midfield from Keiji Tamada allows him to pick out Jungo Fujimoto on the left. Fujimoto chooses the wrong option for the pass, however, intending to slip a pass through to Kensuke Nagai when Tamada would have proved the simpler and better option.
37 Mins: The first booking of the match. Tulio Tanaka had given the ball in midfield, and was struggling to get back into position, so chose to clip the ankles of Makoto Kakuda.
38 Mins: GOAL! It’s completely against the run of play, and it’s Vegalta who take the lead. Shingo Akamine clips a pass for Kunimitsu Sekiguchi to run on to, the ball deflecting off Hayuma Tanaka. Tanaka may be caught unawares as he appears to think he has time and space to clear, but the the acceleration of the left-winger allows him to burst clear of the right-back, and although his low cross is blocked out by Seigo Narazaki, Ryang Yong-Gi is on hand to drive low into the goal at the near post. Goalkeeper Narazaki may have been expecting Ryang to cut the ball across goal, and having recovered from his earlier block, might have done better.
40 Mins: More pressure from Grampus, two good deliveries from Jungo Fujimoto on the left into the penalty area but expertly dealt with by an impressive Vegalta defence.
43 Mins: Vegalta retaining possession of the ball in defence, attempting to impose a slower rhythm than they had been allowed to play by a very dynamic, attack-minded Grampus side.
45 Mins: There will be five minutes of added time to play at the end of a very exciting first period.
45 Mins+4: GOAL! Grampus are required to defend two corners in quick succession, and it is the second they are unable to prevent from finding the net. Ryang Yong-Gi whipped the corner to the back post, Makoto Kakuda heading goalwards. In attempting to clear out for a further corner, Takahiro Masukawa only succeeds in putting the ball into his own net over the head of Jungo Fujimoto on the goalline, and Vegalta double their lead after a first-half in which they should really have gone into the interval behind.
45 Mins+4: Vegalta Sendai 2 Nagoya Grampus 0
45 Mins+5: Masaaki Uemoto blows his whistle to bring the first period to a close.
HT: Vegalta Sendai 2 Nagoya Grampus 0 HT: Grampus Manager Dragan Stojković will doubtless be bewildered as to how his side are behind at the break after dominating possession, territory and chances. Whether the second goal, which came on the stroke of half-time, will prove the decisive blow remains to be seen, but Grampus will almost certainly need to be more clinical in front of goal if they are to retain any hope of taking something from this match.
46 Mins: A second change for Grampus, Mu Kanazaki coming on for Taishi Taguchi.
50 Mins: Grampus could be three behind, defensive foibles exemplified by Seigo Narazaki who is unable to hold on to the simplest of crosses, presented to him by Sekiguchi, and Shohei Abe is called upon once more to clear away down the left-hand side.
57 Mins: Makoto Kakuda is shown a yellow card.
58 Mins: Makoto Kakuda attempts to strike from distance, and he forces Seigo Narazaki to go low to his right to make sure of the save. Kunimitsu Sekiguchi, who together with Ryang Yong-Gi has been at the heart of nearly everything Vegalta have created, was the player who provided the pass to find Kakuda in the hole.
60 Mins: Daniel is on as a substitute, and it is Keiji Tamada who makes way.
62 Mins: Tulio Tanaka rises well in the air to meet Jungo Fujimoto’s cross from the left, but it’s well clear of Takuto Hayashi’s crossbar. He looks disappointed, but it wasn’t the easiest of balls to control.
65 Mins: Vegalta have now fully imposed themselves on this encounter. Set up to counter-attack against what now seems an unbalanced away side, they are very comfortable in resisting Grampus attacks.
65 Mins: Wilson and Akamine link on the left-hand side, and gain a corner after Akamine plays the ball off Naoki Sugai.
68 Mins: Ryang’s initial cross is put behind for a further corner, to the consternation of his own defenders, by Daniel. Ryang strolls over to the opposite side of the field to take, which first Tulio and then Kanazaki clear.
72 Mins: Taikai Uemoto is in some considerable pain as he takes a knock to his knee during a challenge with Keiji Yoshimura, and he is immediately replaced by Kodai Watanabe.
76 Mins: The pace of the match has dropped somewhat, as Grampus try to find a way through a more compact Vegalta midfield. A cross is sent over from the left by Jungo Fujimoto, but it’s easily claimed by Takuto Hayashi.
77 Mins: Seigo Narazaki makes a good stop, diving to his right as Akamine unleashed a powerful drive from outside the penalty area.
79 Mins: Toshihiro Matsushita is on the field, in place of Shingo Akamine.
82 Mins: Mu Kanazaki undoes all his good work on the right-wing with a single touch. Dispossessing Naoya Tamura, he fired a quick pass to Fujimoto, who played the ball back into his path. He has the opportunity to play the ball square across goal, but he skews his cross and it is straight into the hands of Hayashi.
84 Mins: Yoshiaki Ota replaces Ryang Yong-Gi, who has been excellent today.
85 Mins: A deep cross from the right touchline, is headed back across by Daniel, which is easily taken away from the box by Naoya Tamura at pace. It seems he is going to go all the way, his run taking him to the edge of the penalty area, but he is just crowded out as he looks to get a shot away. A wonderful run from the defender.
86 Mins: GOAL! Immediately after Tulio Tanaka has a shot superbly cleared off the line by Jiro Kamata, Vegalta break. Yoshiaki Ota, collecting the ball on the right just inside the Grampus half, skips inside Daniel and finds a defence-splitting pass which allows Wilson to run unimpeded into the area. He calmly slots the ball to the right of the out-rushing Seiko Narazaki from 14 yards. This match is over, seconds after Tulio Tanaka must have through he had given his side a lifeline.
86 Mins: Vegalta Sendai 3 Nagoya Grampus 0
90 Mins: GOAL! Vegalta have a corner, and it’s curled right footed into the penalty area. Takahiro Masukawa is not in the best position to challenge Makoto Kakuda for the ball, and the Vegalta midfielder is able to direct his header on target. Narzaki makes a fine save, but Naoki Sugai is the first to react to the rebound and he knocks home to add a fourth for the home side.
90 Mins: Vegalta Sendai 4 Nagoya Grampus 0
90 Mins+3 With five minutes of added time to play, the crowd are in full voice after a second half in which Vegalta were well worth all four goals.
90 Mins+5: Masaaki Uemoto looks at his watch and brings the match to a close, having booked Takahiro Masukawa.
FT: Vegalta Sendai 4 Nagoya Grampus 0
FT: Dragan Stojković was forced into taking a risk by adding an extra forward to his side and destabilising his midfield in seeking a toehold in the game, and Vegalta were ruthless in exploiting the space in midfield and quickly breaking from defence. Vegalta’s third goal in particular serves as a tactician’s textbook example of how to counter-attack. Despite a first-half in which Grampus were dominant, Vegalta were well worth the four goals by the close of play, exposing gaps in midfield time and again as the away side looked for a way back into this match. Vegalta now go five points clear at the top of the table, and have their first win in May after a small stumble earlier in the month.
FT: Thank you for joining me. A match report will follow on 20 May.
(All the goals from the Mizuho Athletics Stadium as Nagoya Grampus eased to a 3-0 victory over Australia’s Central Coast Mariners in the final round of Group G matches)
Nagoya Grampus will travel to either Australia or South Korea in the Round of 16 to play one of Adelaide United and Pohang Steelers respectively, as they successfully ended their Group G campaign by downing Central Coast Mariners 3-0 at the Mizuho Athletics Stadium.
A free-kick from Keiji Tamada and a delicate Jungo Fujimoto lob in the first period were added to by Tulio Tanaka’s header late on, but the margin of victory was not quite sufficient to finish at the top of the table. Winners Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma matched the Grampus scoreline in defeating Tianjin Teda in China, and subsequently took Group G by way of a superior goal difference.
|3||Central Coast Mariners||0|
|Tianjin Teda||0||Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma
Bit Garam 33′
Jovancic 48′, 68′ (pen.)
|1||Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma||6||4||2||0||13||5||+8||10|
|3||Central Coast Mariners||6||1||3||2||7||11||-4||6|