Thursday, 3 April 2008

Nagoya Down Omiya to Claim Second Spot

Grampus went second in J1 with a 2-1 win at Omiya after Vissel Kobe could only manage a 1-1 draw. Next up are the Marinos, who are likely give the Grampus back line a more thorough test than Omiya could.

By the way, the Australian site FourFourTwo has a good, if typo littered, summary of last night's J1 results.

Although Nagoya were clearly the better team, last night's result was an important win in that it saw the team come from behind after having failed to score on several good chances in the first half. I was beginning to fear that it would be one of those days when the better teams loses after wasting tons of chances. Not that Ardija were really bad, they were lively and quick on the break, but do not have the accuracy to pose a consistent threat. It was quite an entertaining game to watch since neither defense looked particularly reassuring, so both Narazaki and Ardija keeper Ezumi were forced to make some good saves.

After a frenetic opening few minutes, the first half settled down into a pattern of Grampus enjoying most of the possession but Ardija looking threatening on the break. Keiji Yoshimura, Frode Johnsen and Keiji Tamada all had excellent chances to score, but were denied by outstanding saves by Ezumi. Johnsen was also guilty of a bad miss, when he shot wide after the ball fell to him from another Ezumi save. While Grampus were being denied the goal their superior accuracy and control deserved, Omiya took the lead in the 26th minute after Daisuke Tomita fired home a cross from left that had exposed a gaping hole in center of the Grampus box.

Our concerns about how the team would react to being a goal behind despite have more chances were soon dispelled as Masukawa and Magnum scored within a minute of each other after 10 minutes. Masukawa pounced to poke home a Johnsen header and Magnum scored his second in as many games after being put through by a good ball out of midfield from Naoshi Nakamura. Thereafter, Grampus continued to control the game, although Ardija continued to look dangerous on the break. Magnum was denied a second goal when Ezumi did well to react to tip over a point-blank header, while Narazaki ensured that Grampus would claim all three points with a fine save from a Daigo Kobyashi shot.

In addition to the importance of the away win, yesterday's game also saw the team create more chances than they managed against Oita at the weekend. In particular, it was nice to see Nakamura and Yoshimura not only working hard in midfield but also making occasional excursions into attack. Yoshimura was unlucky not to score after being put through by a good ball from Tamada. While the former Reysol speedster still looks a bit out of things and selfish at Grampus, he created the chance for Yoshimura and also provided the cross for Magnum's header that was brilliantly saved by Ezumi. National team manager Okada must also have been encourage by Tamada's improving form and effectiveness.

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