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Monday, 15 March 2010

VIssel Kobe 1-2 Sanfrecce Hiroshima

Meanwhile, Alan was over at Wing Stadium (Oops, Home's Stadium) to take in the other local game.

Vissel Kobe entertained ACL entrants Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the 2nd game of the J.League season, and the game started quickly for the home team as Yoshida got in a snap shot on the volley after 13 seconds, forcing the first save of the game, with Sato sneaking behind Komoto at the other end a minute later, to almost get into the end of a long ball out of defence.

Vissel used Ishibitsu and Popo on the wings to good effect in the opening stages, although Popo didn't manage to get in a decent cross from two early attempts with players waiting in the middle. Vissel were also noticeably pressuring the Sanfrecce midfield and Kobayashi intercepted a stray pass in the 11th minute and hit it first time from over 40 yards. It was well wide, but it showed the tactics of the team, and the confidence of the left back in having a go! In quick succession, then, Yoshida forced a save and Matsuoka had a shot deflected for a corner. Vissel's pressure and confidence was telling and looked the side more likely to score. And then, from a free kick gained as Sato went to ground between two defenders, Nakashima headed in from near the penalty spot and the away team was ahead.

It was noticeable how impressively and quickly the whole Sanfrecce team changed their formation depending on the state of play. The flat three backs were immediately augmented by two full backs and three defensive midfielders whenever the ball was lost, while Makino, when the ball was regained by Sanfrecce, would become a left winger and one of the Morisaki twins would slot immediately into a centre back position to cover him. The movement of the whole team was fluid and the formation changed at the drop of a hat .... so why did this team that seemed so open to tactics use the long ball at every opportunity? Stoyanov would invariably get the ball at the back, and suddenly there were five Hiroshima players lined up against the Vissel backs and the long ball would come again (and again, and again). Komoto and Kitamoto mopped up these pointless long balls time and time again.

The score remained 1-0 to Sanfrecce at half time and coach Miura brought on Okubo in place of Kobayashi at the beginning of the 2nd half, with Mogi moving to left back. This gave Vissel more pace and skill on the left and Mogi was up and down the wing on the left causing problems, while Ishibitsu was more active in the 2nd half, with Popo starting to fade on the right.

Vissel continued their crisp passing and good movement, while Sanfrecce continued to pump long aimless balls up the field from the defence whenever they had possession. Then, again, VIssel conceded another goal from nothing, as Sanfrecce actually played the ball along the left wing and then the cross came over and Takahagi volleyed home from 12 yards. 0-2, a quiet crowd and a disbelieving Vissel Kobe team.

Botti made his first appearance of the season in the 65th minute, replacing Popo ... he was not to be on for long, but we're getting ahead of ourselves! In the 67th Ishibitsu lined up a free kick, but it was hit against the wall, but Park returned a cross from the right and a Sanfrecce hand was judged to have made contact and a PK was given. The PK was duly dispatched calmly to the keeper's left by Okubo to raise the hopes of the home crowd.

Minutes later Okubo and Botti combined to send Mogi through on the left and his shot went agonisingly past the far post. Next up it was Matsuoka who got in on the act with a shot deflected for a corner and a minute later an Ishibitsu free kick hit the wall, and two more shots were blocked in quick succession.

With ten minutes to go Fukuoka University student Nagai was given his debut by Vissel and was soon in the action. Unfortunately, for him, the action caused a bloody nose and he was off the field for most of the last ten minutes. Even with ten men, Vissel continued pushing but then Botti picked up his 2nd yellow card for a late tackle on Makino and Vissel were down to nine on the field! This put a little damper on the big comeback with Nagai only returning as lost time approached. In the dying moments Vissel pressure continued and Okubo had a penalty claim denied, while Komoto saw a diving header slip past a post

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