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Monday, 28 April 2008

Verdy End Grampus Streak

Tokyo field their experienced veterans to send Nagoya to its first league defeat at rain-soaked Ajinomoto Stadium. Verdy started brightly, exerting some early pressure and the first real chance of the game, when Diego sent a glancing header wide from a corner after five minutes.

Tokyo continued to hold the edge for the opening spell and it was not until Ogawa whipped in a snap-shot after 15 minutes that Nagoya started to get into the game. Grampus then looked the slightly better team for the middle of the half, with Tamada seeing efforts parried by Doi and deflected off-target by a defender. However, Verdy closed the half well with a Tsuchiya back header leaving Narazaki scrambling and Diego seeing a shot deflected wide.

The second half opened with Verdy again looking the brighter team, and a rare slip by Maya Yoshida who misjudged the bounce of a throw-in and allowed Diego slip in and slice a shot wide of Narazaki's right post. Diego, who looked a constant threat, duly opened the scoring in the 55th minute when a shot from inside the area crept inside the far post. The goal saw Stojkovic bring on Sugimoto for Yoshimura. While this showed attacking intent, the wet, slippy conditions probably did not best suit Sugimoto whose speed really needs a pitch with sure footing. Not surprisingly, Sugimoto failed to make his usual electrifying runs, although he did get in one diving header that sailed over. Verdy's 18-year old rookie Hiroki Kawana also failed to master the overcome conditions and give the home fans a glimpse of his dribbling skills. But he was able to sneak in to head home a free kick after some lag marking from the Grampus defense after 72 minutes. Although Nagoya pressed forward for a goal, substitute Masaki Fukai unluck to see a close range effort cleared by Doi, they were unable to close the gap and Tokyo earned three valuable points.

Although the 2-0 score line exaggerates Verdy's advantage, Grampus fans cannot complain since our own results against Urawa and the Marinos were similarly misleading, and Tokyo were worth the three points after an aggressive home performance. The good start to the season will have given the Nagoya players confidence and believe in the Stojkovic system, and it is up to them to show that they can bounce back and continue to play the effective football they have displayed this season. Opponents will start to counter Grampus' style, but only the top few teams are likely to be able to do so effectively.

Tokyo Verdy:
Yoichi Doi
Takumi Wada, Daisuke Nasu, Yukio Tsuchiya, Toshihiro Hattori
Tomo Suguwara, Diego, Harutaka Ono, Takashi Fukunishi
Leandro, Kazunori Iio (Hiroki Kawano 66)

Seigo Narazaki
Shohei Abe, Milos Bajalica, Maya Yoshida, Akira Takeuchi
Magnum (Masaki Fukai 70), Naoshi Nakamura, Keiji Yoshimura (Keita Sugimoto 56), Yoshizumi Ogawa
Frode Johnsen, Keiji Tamada (Yuki Maki 67)

Other J1 Results
Elsewhere in the league, Kashima's draw at Omiya and Gamba's dodgy defense ensured that Grampus remain in top spot.
Shimizu S-Pulse 1-0 FC Tokyo
Consadole Sapporo 0-1 Albirex Niigata
Oita Trinita 1-0 Yokohama Marinos
Kyoto Sanga 0-4 Urawa Reds
JEF United 1-2 Jubilo Iwata
Kawasaki Frontale 3-2 Kashiwa Reysol
Omiya Ardija 1-1 Kashima Antlers
Vissel Kobe 2-1 Gamba Osaka

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