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Thursday, 8 May 2008

Nagoya Ease Past Tokyo to Reclaim Top Spot (Briefly)

Despite the brief gap since the last game, Grampus control the opening half during which Tokyo had no answer to the pressure and quicker movement of the visitors. During this period, Keita Sugimoto burst through the middle to latch onto an Ogawa ball into space and clip the ball past the advancing keeper and into the net. Although Nagoya remained comfortably in control throughout the half, they were unable to get a second goal that would have allowed them to ease off the pace a little.

The second half saw FC Tokyo make more of a fight of the game, and was a much more even affair. Indeed FC Tokyo had chances to score, with Cabore going close almost immediately after the restart, and Yusuke Kondo blasting a PK against the bar. (Although Narazaki can have few complaints about conceding the PK, since his sprawling attempt to get the ball failed to do so, TV replays clearly showing that Cabore just got to the ball first, a yellow card seemed a bit harsh.)

While the home team improved in the second half, they still did not look like a team that will be challenging for the title come the end of the season. Nagoya on the other hand used good team work and timely substitutions to maintain their lofty position, the win taking them briefly back to the top of the table. Of course, Urawa were playing the hapless JEF so the Reds were to reclaim top spot later in the afternoon. While Grampus still do not have enough depth to mount a sustained challenge for the title, I do not expect them to drop too far off the pace and summer signings might just bring them up to a level that could challenge for a top three spot.

FC Tokyo:
Hitoshi Shiota
Yuto Nagatomo, Ryuji Fujiyama, Hideki Sahara, Yuhei Tokunaga
Naotake Hanyu (Yohei Otake HT), Ryoichi Kurosawa (Naohiro Ishikawa 76), Jo Kanazawa, Yasuyuki Konno
Cabore, Shingo Akamine (Yusuke Kondo 60)

Seigo Narazaki
Shohei Abe, Takahiro Masukawa, Maya Yoshida, Milos Bajalica
Magnum (Akira Takeuchi 85), Naoshi Nakamura, Keiji Yoshimura (Kei Yamaguchi 88), Yoshizumi Ogawa
Frode Johnsen, Keita Sugimoto (Takashi Yoneyama 69)

Other J1 Results for Round 11
Gamba Osaka and Kashima Antlers have ACL games on Wednesday, so there are two less games than originally scheduled for today.
Consadole Sapporo 1-3 Tokyo Verdy
Kashiwa Reysol 3-0 Vissel Kobe
Urawa Reds 3-0 JEF United
Jubilo Iwata 1-4 Kawasaki Frontale
Albirex Niigata 3-0 Shimizu S-Pulse
Yokohama Marinos 1-1 Omiya Ardija

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