2009-08-30 Montedio Yamagata 1-2 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Posted by stefanole on 2009/09/23
Sanfrecce stretched their unbeaten run to seven games, as they did just enough to overcome Montedio Yamagata at the ND Soft Stadium. Montedio thus become the second team that Sanfrecce have taken a full six points from this season, the other team being Oita Trinita. Like Trinita, Montedio are looking increasingly likely to fall through the trapdoor to J2, after just one season in J1.
In contrast to Montedio’s declining fortunes, Sanfrecce are going from strength-to-strength, and this result sees them go joint third in the J-League and into an Asian Champions League place. The game also saw the first appearance for Sanfrecce of new signing Tadanari LEE.
Sanfrecce lined up with what is arguably their strongest formation (depending on whether you prefer Takahagi or Takayanagi alongside Kashiwagi in attacking midfield). Aoyama returned to the side after being suspended for the long-overdue win against Urawa.
I didn’t see the game myself (I haven’t been to a Sanfrecce away game this season, nor is it likely that I will), but from the highlights it seems that Sanfrecce probably played a similar game to the one they did against Oita. By this, I mean that they played at a much slower pace than they do against more able opposition, not exerting themselves any more than is completely necessary to gain all three points. It’s a risky tactic in that you can easily be ambushed by a lesser side determined to get the win, and there is no point in doing your utmost to mug higher-placed teams if you are going to waste the effort by or otherwise dropping points to lower-placed opposition. It also relies on the leadership of management and players to keep the team on track. The benefits though are that the team is better rested for important matches, as Sanfrecce demonstrated by convincingly beating Urawa after the Oita game, and by since beating Yokohama F. Marinos in a frenetic game played after this one.
The first half was accordingly dull as hell, or at least that’s what I have to guess from the highlights (there aren’t any). In the second half, Mikic restarted his quest for a goal by cutting inside in the 52nd minute, but his curled shot went over. Makino saw a long-range effort go over a few minutes later. Aoyama also saw a close-range volley palmed away by the Yamagata keeper after he connected with a Hattori cross in the 56th minute.
It was clear that a goal was coming, and in the 63rd minute that’s what happened. Nakajima found Kashiwagi after a forward run, and he played Takayanagi in to score from twelve yards out.
Montedio’s goal came from a Furuhashi free kick, one that a top keeper would have kept out as it looped over the wall. The goal came a little early for Yamagata though as it spurred Sanfrecce to get a winner, and they had time enough to do it. Hisato headed wide in the 78th minute from a deep Kashiwagi cross, and in the 81st minute the ball was in the net again. Kashiwagi intecepted KOBARA Shogo, who was dallying with the ball in front of his own penalty area, and played in Hisato to slot the ball home. In the words of the commentator, Kashiwagi’s “gambare” made the goal. The result confirms Sanfrecce’s status as a real contender for a Champions’ League place next season as one of the top form teams in the J-League.
As for Tadanari LEE, he comes to Sanfrecce from Kashiwa Reysol (incorrectly described as “rivals” by Reuters, Reysol are at the opposite end of J1 from Sanfrecce, with no obvious rivalry other than the fact that we will have played them twice in the league at the end of this season). He has signed up until January 2011, and was a member of Japan’s Olympic squad at Beijing (Japan failed to reach the knockout stages and scored only one goal). To quote the Reuters article, ‘ “It was a very difficult decision to leave with team in its current position,” said the 23-year-old. “I decided to leave in order to give myself the chance to grow as a player.” ‘ Lee will face his old team on the 20th of September.
10,206 (J-League average 19,278**)
Takayanagi 62′ (0-1)
Furuhashi 71′ (1-1)
Hisato 80′ (1-2)
LEE (TAKAYANAGI 73′)
MORITA (MIKIC 86′)
YOKOTAKE (HISATO 89′)
NAKAJIMA (YC #?, 36′)
KASHIWAGI (YC #?, 71′)
Tadanari LEE made his Sanfrecce début.
*Average home attendance for Sanfrecce for total of preceding games in J1 in 2009.
**Average attendance for J1 in the 2008 season.