2009-08-19 Sanfrecce 1-0 Oita Trinita
Posted by stefanole on 2009/09/02
Sanfrecce overcame relegation-favourites Trinita in a fairly lacklustre game at the Big Arch. The win moves the Purple Archers up to sixth place on the back of five unbeaten games, within sight of Champions League qualification. The game also saw the return of former Sanfrecce assistant coach Ranko Popović as Oita manager, who worked under Sanfrecce’s current manager Mihailo Petrović for a year, from the start of his tenure in 2006.
There was really no option for Sanfrecce but to come away with all three points from this game, my first for over a month, and they did so without really exerting themselves. Oita managed to put up some resistance, but with the ever-imperious Stoyanov leading the backline, they never really looked like scoring.
Takayanagi got the all-important goal, just as I predicted he might after the Kashima game in my write-up here. A ball put into the penalty area by Hattori, another player picked out from the Kashima game, was poked past the Oita keeper and defenders by a sliding Takayanagi.
Mikic made his home return to the side after a month out suspended, sporting a new Joshua Kennedy-style white headband. He played his usual bright game up the right wing, and was subbed out as usual (for Morita this time, since Sanfrecce were ahead: if they are behind, Mikic is usually subbed out for Ri Han-Jae).
Oita attempted to counter Sanfrecce’s technical and ability advantage with more bodily play, but it didn’t really work out for them. With the Trinita forwards either unwilling or unable to put together a serious threat to the Sanfrecce goal, Stoyanov was free to play the part-time midfield General, and he made sure that the opposition felt his presence. This led ultimately to Takahagi being scythed down by increasingly frustrated Oita players, in the shadow of a dugout that resembled a jumble sale: Oita are in the habit of trying to garner sympathy for their injury-hit squad by hanging up the shirts of their fallen in the dugout. In reality this tactic attracts more ridicule than sympathy, as demonstrated in this article by sportswriter Jeremy Walker.
Numerous other free-kicks were conceded to Makino, who was alternately cleverly winning free-kicks under pressure (something probably learned from his spell with the national team), as well as more straightforward fouls from the increasingly desperate visitors. These little pushes in the back are usually capitalised on by wily strikers, but Makino is clearly learning to turn them to his advantage as a defender.
Then there are the more reckless fouls from a frantic team, like the one pictured. All the Oita player needs is some black tape, and we have the makings of a kidnap scene from a Hollywood thriller. (I can imagine it now: an extraordinary rendition to a bunker in some desolate out-of-the-way region, say Okayama, where Makino is guarded by giant turtles and interrogated on his superior defensive technique.)
Elsewhere, Moriwaki also had an impressive game. Like Stoyanov and Makino, the ineffectiveness of Trinita’s attack meant that he was free to roam up the left, and he popped up a couple of times with attempted headers on goal. Superior positioning also snuffed out a few of Oita’s rare attempts at the Sanfrecce goal, which were all but limited to a few long-range pot shots.
There was a scare late on as Nakabayashi spilled a catch, and was later forced into a save to stop another long-range effort. It gave the impressive Oita turnout, who were in good voice for most of the match, brief cause for hope of a last-gasp equaliser.
The defence stayed strong however, earning its fourth-straight clean sheet. The result sets up a showdown this Saturday with an Urawa Reds team that is in freefall after having lost its last five league games in a row (a run started, ironically enough, by Oita Trinita).
10,951 (previous average: 14,721*, J-League average 19,278**)
Takayanagi 22′ (1-0)
TAKAHAGI (TAKAYANAGI 67′)
MORITA (MIKIC 70′)
RI (KASHIWAGI 81′)
AOYAMA (YC #5, 64′)
RI (YC #2, 90′)
AOYAMA suspended for next game after receiving five yellow cards
*Average home attendance for Sanfrecce for total of preceding games in J1 in 2009.
**Average attendance for J1 in the 2008 season.