2009-08-01 Sanfrecce 1-0 Kashima Antlers
Posted by stefanole on 2009/08/14
Sanfrecce recorded their highest attendance in nearly two years, in a game which saw them best the runaway league-leaders and most successful J-League club, Kashima Antlers.
A goal from Hisato was enough to comdemn Antlers to only their second defeat in the J-League all season, and their first in four-and-a-half months. Although, as I noted previously, draws against Reysol and S-Pulse proved that the cracks were already beginning to appear for Kashima.
Sanfrecce fielded an unchanged starting lineup from the previous game against FC Tokyo, and it appears that the side is beginning to gel. The absence of Mikic and Takahagi appeared to unsettle the team in their loss against the Reds, and whilst I suspected the 4-1 against JEF may have been misleading, they have found their shape and their form in quite dramatic fashion.
Hattori appears to have struck a purple patch (pun intended) and was involved in a number of good attacks. In one case he seemed to have borrowed Takahagi’s shooting boots for a long range effort that would have dipped under the bar, were it not for an acrobatic save by Kashima’s Sogahata.
Sanfrecce’s goal came in the 36th minute, and demonstrated the importance of something I think Sanfrecce have been working on in recent weeks: namely, keeping the ball and winning it back quickly when you lose it. Hisato showed good composure and strength to pass the ball wide to Ri Han-Jae as he was tackled going forward. Three passes later, via some great link-up play between Nakajima and Aoyama, and Hisato is through the Kashima defence to score his eighth of the season in the J-League. This goal ties Hisato for eighth in the goalscoring chart (the topscorer has twelve goals).
Aoyama is often the Purple Archers’ unsung hero, and today he was involved in a couple of good moves, as well as grabbing the assist. Takayanagi is also looking slightly more settled, though some strange decision-making in goalscoring situations would probably be explained by a confidence problem. A goal, maybe next week against Oita, would surely fix that.
Hisato had the ball in the net a second time, but unfortunately was offside. Kashiwagi played Takayanagi through, but his close control again failed him. The ball dribbled across to Hisato to blast in, but Takayanagi’s touch had put him in an offside position.
Defensively (always Sanfrecce’s achilles heel) we were reasonable – after all, the side won another clean sheet. The only time I can see from the highlights that the team should have done better was near the end. Hattori failed to prevent a cross from coming in, and Nakajima and Takayanagi’s poor marking allowed an Antlers player a header which landed on the roof of the net. As I was not at the game (I was at Fukuoka airport being molested by customs officials), I don’t have any better insights into any particular defensive problems.
Hopefully though, the team can hold it together against Kobe tomorrow and Oita next Wednesday, and bring the game to Urawa next Saturday. With the score 1-1 for the season (we won 1-0 at home in the League Cup, and Urawa won 1-2 at home in the League), the stage is set for a showdown with J1’s self-styled “bad boys”.
22,225 (previous average 13,887*)
Hisato 36′ (1-0)
TAKAHAGI (HISATO 77′)
RAKUYAMA (RI 83′)
MORITA (TAKAYANAGI 84′)
AOYAMA (YC) 81′
*Average home attendance for Sanfrecce for total of preceding games in J1 in 2009.