Sunday, November 21

Vissel 0 - 0 Kashima

A hard earned point at home yesterday against second-in-the-league Kashima Antlers sees Vissel Kobe still in with a chance of surviving in J1 - with 3 games remaining. FC Tokyo FINALLY lost for the first time in over a month, enabling us to reduce the gap with them to 1 point, and it looks like the relegation battle could be decided in the last round.

For a game that had no goals, it was pretty entertaining. Kashima were still in the title race before this match, but realistically had no chance of catching Grampus who went on to become champions with a 1-0 victory over Bellmare. Still, they fielded an almost unchanged lineup to the one that convincingly beat Kawasaki last week - except for one notable absence, super-twat Marquinos. Vissel too started a similar team to last week's, but Botti was pushed forward to partner Vamos Popo up front instead of the injured Yoshida.

Both teams had numerous opportunities, ours not converted mainly due to a lack a finishing class, and theirs thanks to some Tokushige goal-keeping class, but Kashima lacked the rhythm they showed against Frontale in midfield. I'd like to think it was because of the pressure and high-paced game we were playing, but they looked slightly off their game. This didn't stop them, though, from (skillfully) falling to the floor a lot to earn themselves 18 free kicks and four unfair yellow cards for us. Referee Okada came to Kobe for the umpteenth time with a reputation for being very biased against us, and he kept that in tact with what I would consider a performance that bordered on cheating. He really is a prick and I hope he retires soon.

If we play with this kind of spirit in our last 3 matches, I think we can pull off another great escape. It's about time a little luck came our way, too.

Remaining key fixtures
Vissel (31 points)
vs. Omiya (A)
vs. Simizu (H)
vs. Urawa (A)

FC Tokyo (32 points)
vs. Grampus (A)
vs. Yamagata (H)
vs. Kyoto (A)

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