Vegalta Sendai 3 - 2 Kawasaki Frontale
It was as great to have another opportunity to go to Sendai this season. It’s one of my favourite grounds and the city and supporters are great. It didn’t however feel so great at half time, trailing 3-0 and with us putting in an ACL-away-to-Urawa type performance but without the slight consolation of having scored. This was the first of three consecutive matches against Vegalta and ended up being a thoroughly strange match. It was a real game of two halves. Sure we have a few key players missing for various reasons, but the first 45 minutes were pretty shocking. We almost made up for it with a spirited second half, which has left the tie set up nicely for the second leg. Let’s hope we don’t stumble again in that match.
The goal transformed our players who had admittedly come out for the second half in a lot better state than the first. But still the goal took them up another level. We were back attacking with vigour and making plenty of chances. Kobayashi hit the bar with a header. The noise in the stand was immense. Kengo couldn’t even do the arm waving thing he likes to do. We were all screaming out our songs. Then Vegalta were down to 10 men with their striker, (and according to Kobayashi, biggest threat), Ishihara being sent off for a second yellow. I can’t remember the first yellow, but the second one seemed fair enough. He jumped for a header and planted his knee in the back of our player. The usual online Frontale haters seem to think it wasn’t a sending off, but if he hadn’t already been booked I think it was an easy yellow to give, and I don’t think yellow cards should be considered in relation to previous cards given in the game. It always irritates me that a keeper given a yellow for time wasting (which I haven’t seen in a while, to be honest), can then waste time at will, knowing he won’t be given another yellow and get dismissed for further time wasting. I think that if it’s a yellow card offence, it should get a yellow, regardless of the circumstances. I think we’d all love a bit of consistency in applying the rules. This season seems to have been a particularly bad refereeing season. Anyway.... There were a few borderline calls coming from the linesman and this was further cranking up the tension. One resulted in half the Frontale bench and staff arguing their case with the apparently visually impaired assistant. It looked like the translator for the Brazilian players was going to get sent off. He seemed furious. Tasaka too was pretty angry and he ended up getting booked whilst not on the pitch, presumably condemning him to being an unused sub. It was around this time that the ref totally lost control of the match. Pretty much all of his decisions were being contested vociferously by one team or the other. With the extra man we were piling forward. They were playing with pretty much no one up front but occasionally threatened on the counter attack. Sung-Ryong had to make a couple of great saves to keep us alive. We were doing our best but the goal wasn’t quite coming. On 85 minutes, Kano came on for Moriya, completing a set of substitutions that I don’t think many could have predicted before the game. Once again he did a decent job in his brief cameo appearance. There were five minutes of injury time to be played. We still weren’t in a very good position but at least we had an away goal and had clawed something back. Then, with just a minute of injury time left we scored again. Ienaga put in a great curving cross to the far post, Kobayashi headed it back across goal and Chinen was there to head home his first senior goal. Amazing! On the replay he looked pretty cool jogging back for the restart but he does crack a little smile. A vital goal. We had a couple more chances but nothing came from them. The final whistle was blown but we continued singing loudly, congratulating the players on a good second half and for getting us back in the tie. It was all quite emotional actually! The players looked like they appreciated the support. We’d lost, but somehow it felt like a win. I think we probably feel a lot more optimistic about the second leg than Sendai do now. But it’s nowhere near over. A goal from them on Sunday will leave us with a mountain to climb. It certainly felt a lot better at full time than half time though!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG (Yellow card 45+1')
DF 28. ITAKURA Ko
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
MF 21. EDUARDO NETO
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
MF 18. ELSINHO
MF 41. IENAGA AkihiroMF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu
GK 30. ARAI Shota
DF 2. NOBORIZATI Kyohei (on for ITAKURA 46')
DF 6. TASAKA Yusuke (Yellow card 77')FW 13. MIYOSHI Koji
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for HASEGAWA 70')
MF 25. KANO Kenta (on for MORIYA 85')
My Frontale Man Of The Match
From the first half, probably no-one! But the more spirited performance in the second half means that I am able to give it to someone. Nobori made a big difference when he came on, but this could have been in part due to the formation change. Given the circumstances, I'll give it to...
CHINEN Kei - His first senior goal so added significance. He also won the corner for the first goal. Did a good job of unsettling a Vegalta defence that had been dealing with us fairly easily up to that point. But yeah, mainly because it was his first goal.
ISHIHARA (Sendai) 24' 1-0
CRISLAN (Sendai) 33' 2-0
CRISLAN (Sendai) 45+1' 3-0
NARA (Frontale) 72' 3-1
CHINEN (Frontale) 90+4' 3-2