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2013-03-09 [J League] Albirex Niigata 1-2 Sanfrecce Hiroshima

Posted by stefanole on 2013/03/10

Sanfrecce's stars at the Big Swan stadium. Photo from: http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/News/Tn201303100037.html

Sanfrecce’s stars at the Big Swan stadium. Photo from: http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/News/Tn201303100037.html

Sanfrecce won their first game of the 2013 J League season as they defeated a poor Albirex Niigata, who are quickly beginning to look like favorites for relegation.

Sanfrecce lined up in their familiar formation, with the only change being YAMAGISHI Satoru’s coming in for ISHIKAWA Hironori on the right. Takahagi and Mikic were the two major omissions from the squad, both probably for reasons of injury.

20130309_Sanfrecce_Hiroshima

Niigata struggled to keep possession of the ball, as Sanfrecce kept their shape well and closed down quickly. They also had no answers to Hiroshima’s passing and counter-attacks throughout the game, as personified by FUJITA Seiya’s sending off in the first half.

On 11′, Hisato released Aoyama who surged through the midfield towards goal, but he was deliberately pulled back by Fujita and shown the yellow card.

Fujita repeated his trick ten minutes later, hacking down Shimizu as he broke up the left following an Aoyama pass. He was immediately shown a second yellow card and sent off.

Niigata reorganized by taking off forward TANAKA Tatsuya and replacing him with midfielder KIKUCHI Naoya, but it was just a matter of time before Hiroshima overpowered the home side.

The first goal took a little longer coming than I expected, but it eventually came from a corner on 75′. Ex-Niigata defender CHIBA Kazuhiko headed the ball down towards ISHIHARA Naoki who had his back to goal inside the goal area. Ishihara leaned back into the defender who was marking him and hooked the ball into the net with an improvised overhead kick.

Albirex’s goal was also from a corner, as poor marking and aerial presence allowed their tall Korean defender KIM Kun-Hoan to head the ball past Nishikawa in the goal. Sanfrecce’s difficulty in dealing with high balls is probably my biggest complaint about their defending, though it was obviously not enough to prevent them from winning the J League title last year.

Sanfrecce struck back almost immediately however, as a MORISAKI Koji free-kick was played high into the Niigata box. Keeper Kurokawa attempted to punch, but he was beaten by ISHIHARA Naoki who headed the ball on for Chiba to head in from six yards. Chiba respectfully declined to celebrate the goal against his former team, something that was all the more pointed following certain Urawa players’ antics last week.

Sanfrecce are next in action in the Asian Champions League on Wednesday in China against Beijing Guoan.

Attendance: 28,118

Highlights:

90 Minutes Asia:

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