Sorry for the late update. The 1-0 win over S-Pulse, and the fact that we are still in with a chance of avoiding relegation, had me in shock for the last 2 days, so much that I had to have one of those lovely Chinese lasses down in Sannomiya massage me back to life for 3,000 yen! Bless her soul - and her illegal status in this fine land.
Shimizu should have beaten us because, well, they are better than us. But on Saturday, we beat them, simply because we wanted it - and NEEDED it more. They demonstrated in patches why they were challenging for an ACL spot, having several opportunities to "relegate" us. But Mogi snatched our well deserved goal in the 83rd minute thanks to an Ogura miss-kick - giving us a lifeline going into the final round this week against Urawa. Moreover, as it was the final home game of the season, the suits were spared the embarrassment of having to apologize for relegation in front of the home fans. Cynicism aside, it was certainly a spirited second half with our midfield, Mihara, Tanaka, Botti and Ogura, deserving a lot of the credit. Despite being heavily marked in the first half, Botti was at the center of everything we did and I think he was our (outfield) man of the match again. When Tanaka was sent off in the 75th for a second yellow, I thought we were doomed. But it seemed to give us even more incentive not to lose and the boys fought right up until the final whistle. A magical afternoon, and an even more spectacular evening (thanks Wu-Ying).
If we beat Urawa, and FC Tokyo don't beat Kyoto - we survive. Otherwise, will see us relegated.
Predictions for the final round
Urawa 2 - 3 Vissel (We survive!)
Kyoto 1 - 0 FC Tokyo (C'mon Kyoto!!!!)
Yamagata 0 - 3 Kashima (Antlers clinch 2nd)
Shimizu 3 - 1 Gamba (Scumba miss out on 3rd!)
Cerezo 4 - 4 Jubilo (8 goal thriller. Cerezo pip Scumba for the ACL spot on goal difference!)