Another inspired substitution by the manager sees a player score on his return from injury. This time it was Naoshi Nakamura's turn. His blast of clear air turbulence proving the difference between a Vissel side lacking the guile to earn a point, and a Grampus team that did no more than they had to.
This game got off to an inauspicious start, with both Vissel's Okubo and Tulio picking up early injuries that looked like seeing them get subbed early. However, both managed to play on for a few minutes and both eventually looked none the worse for wear. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the pitch, which cut up easily from the opening minute.
Okubo was the first to look like making a quick return to the bench. One burst of speed to create space in midfield, saw him tweak a muscle and spend the next few minutes limping noticeably. However, as the half wore on he gradually started to move a bit more freely again. Tulio was hurt in a typically robust tackle, and was also feeling its effects for several minutes. Overall, Grampus had the better of the half, but tended to try and be too clever close to goal. Tamada having a chance midway through the half, but slicing his shot wide. At the other end, Isomura made a timely block as Vissel's Hideo Tanaka advanced into the danger area. Takagi was also forced to come-out quickly to smother a Yoshida effort. The best effort of the half however, fell to Tulio who was brilliantly setup by a deft Josh back heel, but hit his effort weakly at Tokushige.
Vissel came out looking the sharpr and more determined team in the second half. First Okubo shot wastefully wide and cutting inside to create a good opening. Ishibitsu then headed over from 6-yards with one of their best chances of the game. Their only other clearcut chance saw Okubo hit a tame effort from close range into the arms of a grateful Takagi. Meanwhile, Stojkovic had brought on Naoshi Nakamura for Isomura after 69 minutes, and the midfielder was soon settling into his alternating role of midfield terrier and support striker. It was s typical burst from midfield that saw him drive towards the Kobe goal, as the Vissel defence retreated, late in the half and unleash a wicked shot that left Tokushige floundering. Once again, Piksi had seen a player mark his return from injury with a goal. At this rate, Mu Kanazaki will owe us a hat-trick on his return.