Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Grampus Thru to ACL Knockout Stage

A twice-taken Fujimoto PK sees Nagoya clinch their advance to the next stage. A clinical, possession game gets the job done without expending too much energy. (Report added 5th May.)

The game kicked-off at a temperature of around 25 degrees, and remained it remained warm for much of the game. This saw several Grampus players cramp up towards the end, notably Ogawa and Abe. As expected, Nagoya played a cautious, possession game while Greentown defended resolutely. In midfield, Ogawa and Fujimoto took turns to drop back alongside Nakamura in defensive midfield. The home team looked content to keep the game tight and patiently wait for a chance to score. The visitors resorted to a simple plane that saw them look to their tall forward, but Chiyo and Masu were again in commanding form and their hopeful balls did not produce much danger. As a result, although we continued to probe for an opening, the Chinese pulled everyone back towards the end of the half, making it difficult for us to carve out a clear-cut chance. A fairly uneventful half ended 0-0.

The visitors started to press a bit more urgently in the second half, knowing defeat would end their interest in this year's competition. For all their increased energy, however, it was Grampus that continued to control the pace of the game. Moreover, the visitors' more aggressive approach left them vulnerable to swift counterattacks. Abe and Nagai combined well to release Tamada behind the defence, but the former Japan international was fractionally offside as he closed in on the chance. Nagai, then sent over a perfectly flighted cross for Ogawa after 12 minutes, but the midfielder mistimed his free header and saw his effort come back off the post. As the halfway point of the half approached, the visitors finally started to get into the game, but were then hit with the classic sucker punch. A beautifully flighted pass from Fujimoto found sub Kuba busrting between defender in the penalty box. The speedster got to the ball first and was then clipped by the trailing legs of the Greentown goalie. A clear penalty, duly given, and Fujimoto converted the kick at the second attempt after his first had been ruled out for infringement. Grampus then ran out the clock with more possession football.

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