Kawasaki Frontale 3 - 1 Kashima Antlers
Another cracking performance and result. Our Jekyll and Hyde season is on an upswing again. If we could play like this every week, we would walk the league. Unfortunately, that's obviously not really going to happen, but this result has blown the title race right open again and put us well back in there. If Kashima had won they would have started to look difficult to catch, but thankfully they didn't and although I couldn't go to the game due to still being on holiday, I was able to watch on my phone screen. Still probably not exactly enough to be able to write anything much about it but I'll give it a little go.
Kobayashi dropped to the bench for this game due to a thigh strain. Edu's absence from the squad meant that Rhayner was able to get involved again, (and get another yellow. I don't know what it is about him, but he always seems to get booked for doing nothing much). Ienaga got a chance, his first start since he scored his first goal against Thespakusatsu. After a bit of criticism about his contribution in the Jubilo game (where let's be honest, no-one did particularly well), it was once again time for him to step up and be counted and he did a pretty good job! Our third goal was a beauty from him, a move that started deep in our own half, winning the ball back from a Kashima throw and breaking fast. This goal was particularly satisfying as we'd put the ball out for an injury and instead of returning the ball to us, Kashima played on. Ienaga also got the assist for our first (if you can get an assist for an own goal, but surely Oshima was about the bury it when the defender slid in and did the job. Amazing dummy by Abe, by the way). The second was a nice finish from Abe after a decent cross from Elsinho and lovely lay off by Nobori. Oh, and we conceded, but who cares about that goal?
All in all, this was a great performance. We made Kashima look pretty normal. You would never have guessed they were the league leaders. We scored three nice goals, defended pretty well for the most part and Sung-Ryong was there to save us when we didn't. Ienaga did a great job and is finally showing his worth. It's good to see that we have some more options. Rhayner gave us a reminder of what he can do too. I don't really understand what happens to us from game to game sometimes. We've smashed Kashima twice this season but have also stumbled to some rotten results. Kashima cemented their position in my mind as a not very nice team who play unattractive football and are quite unlikable. I can't remember the details, but I think the horrible Leandro was lucky to stay on the pitch for a bad challenge. Kanazaki and Suzuki are still nasty little kicking, tripping, diving, moaning shits, (in my opinion). Let's hope that we can continue with the good results and cut out some of the bad ones. We're back in touch but still need to make up some ground so we can't afford to trip up again. Fingers crossed.
Next up is Consadole Sapporo at home, perhaps just the kind of game where we do tend to trip up. We didn't do particularly well against them earlier in the season but this time we really need to win to keep things going. This will be the last match I am missing, and I really will be missing it as I'll be on a plane whilst it's taking place. Let's hope we can put in another good performance. Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 18. ELSINHO
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 21. EDUARDO NETO
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo
MF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
FW 8. ABE Hiroyuki
GK 30. ARAI Shota
MF 6. TASAKA Yusuke (on for IENAGA 90+3')
FW 9. MORIMOTO Takayuki
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for NAKAMURA 72')
FW 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
MF 22. RHAYNER (Yellow card 67') (on for NOBORIZATO 64')
DF 28. ITAKURA Ko
NISHI (Kashima) OWN GOAL 45+1' 1-0
ABE (Frontale) 46' 2-0
IENAGA (Frontale) 72' 3-0
SUZUKI (Kashima) 87' 3-1
The Frontale youtube channel usually has longer highlights provided by DAZN, but given that last year's highlights got wiped when the broadcaster got changed, I'm going to stick with the official J League ones. But you can watch the longer highlights here if you want. There's also now some other match related content exclusive to the Frontale channel, so that's the bottom video.