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Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Grampus Ease Past Trinita to Climb to 3rd

Nagoya eased past Oita 2-1 at Mizuho Stadium on Sunday to climb to third in the J1 table after three games.

Although the score-line suggests a close game, Grampus were in control for most of the 90 minutes and looked comfortable against a useful Trinita team. This was the first time I have seen Milos Bajalica in action, after a hesitant start he looks a useful addition to the defense. In addition to providing height in heart of the defense, he makes some useful forages forward, although these are sometimes let down by a tendency to try and dribble all the way through rather than lay the ball off to a team mate.

Up front, Frode Johnsen and Keiji Tamada unsettled the Oita defense despite failing to really combine effectively. As they play more games together, I expect them to improve their understanding and pose even more of a threat to opposing teams. As it was, Tamade was able to exploit the space created by Johnsen to flick home a good Naoshi Nakamura cross after three minutes. Mu Kanazaki scored a neat goal at the near post to equalize for Trinita towards the end of the first half, but former Grampus forward Ueslei was kept out of the game by Bajalica and Maya Yoshida. Grampus sealed the victory midway through the second half when Magnum blast home from close range after chesting down another testing cross that elued the Oita defense.

Overall, this was a solid performance by Nagoya that saw them comfortable in control without ever really dominating the game. Yokohama Marinos will pose a much tougher test this week in a game that should tell us just how much progress the team may make this year. A top half of the table finish looks more than possible, but challenging for a top five spot will depend on the team being more consistent when playing the weaker teams in the league; a task that often eluded them in recent seasons.

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