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Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Grampus Off to Flying Start

Nagoya got the ideal start to their first ACL campaign with a 3-1 over Ulsan in Korea. Despite a performance that show that there is still room for improvement, the team earned three important away points.

As was the case against Oita on Saturday, the team had to come from behind. Ulsan went into the interval deservedly leading 1-0. Although the home team had hardly been dominant, they had been sharper on the attack and had kept possession well with quick accurate passing when they had the ball. Grampus on the other hand had looked jaded and gave the ball away with some sloppy passing.

However, Grampus emerged after the break and started playing the kind of football we know they can play. Their constant pressure and improved coordination saw the team gradually assert control. This was confirmed about 10 minutes into the half when Maya Yoshida stole in to head home a cross from the left. Thereafter, Grampus looked sharper and fitter than their opponents and it was no surprise to see them take the lead towards the end. Davi and Magnum both capitalizing on sloppy defending that allowed them free headers close to goal.

Despite a few uncharacteristic errors, Maya Yoshida in particular having a very inconsistent game, this was a positive performance from Nagoya. There were plenty of lesson to be learned from this game, the only doubt is that the convincing nature of the result may mean that they are not taken to heart. The midfield in particular still lacks imagination, but does a great job of harrying the opposition into errors. We saw a brief glimpse of Sho Hanai towards the end and if the youngster can operate in the team's bustling style, he will add some of the missing creativity.

Individually, Masaya Sato proved that he can hold his own at this level, and should be an asset to the team as he gains experience. Hayuma Tanaka already looks at home in the team and is proving he was a good signing. Stojkivic showed that he really might be a great manager in the making. His half-time pep talk changed the nature of the game. Davi and Tamada started to show a bit more awareness of each others movement as the game wore on and look set to trouble even the soundest of defenses.

Ulsan Hyundai
Kim YOung Kwang
Lee Dong Won, YOu Kyoung Youl, Lee Won Jae
Slavcho, Hyun Young Min, Oh Jang Bun, Lee Se Hwan
Almir, Yum Ki Hoon, Cho Jin Soo
Scorers: Cho 24

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Maya Yoshida, Takahiro Masukawa, Masaya Sato
Magnum (Sho Hanai), Naoshi Nakamura (Kei Yamaguchi), Keiji Yoshimura, Yoshizumi Ogawa (Keita Sugimoto 72)
Keiji Tamada, Davi
Scorers: Yoshida 53, Davi 77, Magnum 86

Other Stories:
AFP/Yahoo News: Japanese teams off to flying start in AFC Champions League
AFC: Nagoya too powerful for Ulsan

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