Sunday, March 18

2 out of 2

This is the first time since 2001 that we have started the season off with 2 wins. The victory over Consadole yesterday puts us equal top of the league and, more importantly, 6 points ahead of Gamba who lost in the 94th minute against Cerezo.

To be fair, the performance wasn't as convincing as the Gamba match, but I felt we did enough to call it a deserved victory. The stats indicate that it was pretty even all round, and that's how we saw it from behind the goal. Again, our defense was solid and apart from a couple of instances I never really felt we were under much pressure. Sapporo's opener was a blow. A deflected shot fell sweetly in front of Yamamoto who took the low shot across goal very well.

We leveled the score in the 22nd minute when Gakuto got on the end of a Tanaka pass just outside the box, took it first go with his left foot and slid it under keeper Lee who was very slow to react. Gakuto admitted in the post match interview (Mr. Fighting Spirit!) that it was a lucky shot, but the replay clearly showed he put it exactly where he was aiming.

The real turning point came less than 10 minutes after half time when Wada replaced Morioka with Tokura. His goal didn't come until 10 minutes before time, but he had a big impact throughout the second half by bringing a sense of urgency to the situation. Although Morioka was visibly disappointed at being replaced, the decision was the right one because Tokura started running into space, particularly down the right, while Morioka tended to wait for the ball more. Gakuto got the assist, but it was a lovely little through ball from Okubo that enable him to whip in a cross that Tokura tapped in from a couple of yards out.

Wada's tactics clearly were to push down the right to try to expose Iwanuma at left back instead of taking on the more experienced Takaki, but we all wanted to see Soma make the kind of runs he did so successfully against Gamba last week. It was a shame he wasn't given that chance.

Anyway, no complaints. Hopefully we can carry this momentum to our next match against another promoted side and co-leaders F.C. Tokyo next week.
Vamos Kobe.

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