Our biggest and by far worst defeat of the season thus far happen in front of a 26,485 strong crowd at Ajinomoto Stadium as FC Tokyo’s blistering start was too much for us to handle as we slumped back into the relegation zone as we reached the World Cup break for the league campaign.
Kenta Hasegawa made one change to the side that started against Nagoya Grampus, with goal-scorer from that game Kotaro Omori starting in place of Takahiro Futagawa.There was a further change on the bench as Kenya Okazaki took the place of Myojin – the first time Okazaki has been in a J1 squad and his first glimpse of first team action was just around the corner following a few months out on the sidelines following injury.
The general rule of thumb for an away game is be tight and solid in the first 15 minutes or so, but boy didn’t we ignore that! 37 seconds in an we were 1-0 down thanks to Edu’s strike following a cut-back Kawano. Iwashita and Fujiharu were caught napping as a ball was clipped forward and then flicked to Kawano – Nishino lost Edu and left him to Oh for some reason and the Korean could not get to Edu quick enough. The goal was however blatantly offside but of course, no replays. The hosts with a goal for the first time in 4 games.
And it was 2-0 in the 3rd minute with Muto getting in on the act. Iwashita to blame again as he cut out a pass and then, running into touch, passed the ball to a Tokyo player who slide the ball into the empty space he had vacated and again Nishino did not get close enough, allowing Muto to fire in past Higashiguchi at the near post – the keeper should have done much better. Terrible start.
Usami almost got us back within touching distance but Gonda’s save at the second attempt prevented the ball going in whilst the hosts pressing well and forcing us to play too quickly. Iwashita was given his 3rd booking of the season and wrongly so after cleanly taking the ball. We should have been level through a Nishino header but that was cleared off the line by a defender following an Endo corner. The centre-backs were just awful together and somehow we controlled the rest of the half but had no bite whilst letting Muto and Edu half-chances which they did not take this time round.
Futagawa was brought on for the ineffective Abe whilst I would have preferred to have seen Endo, Konno and Iwashita off – all dire. Usami was fouled in the penalty box after showing some drive but like always, nothing was given… Endo then sent Konno the worst pass he has ever played as it eluded his midfield partner, came to Takashi who passed simply to Edu who was allowed to control the ball, turn and pick his spot before firing past Higashiguchi from the edge of the area. Reread the last sentence and surely you would be frustrated too! Iwashita and Nishino nowhere to be seen.
Endo got booked and from the following free kick Ota hit the bar whilst Iwashita was subbed for Kenya Okazaki to make his J1 debut, Konno to centre-back. Kurata got booked and Lins came on for Omori and here is my qualm – why the hell was Endo still on? It was the worst game I have ever seen him play and Hasegawa did not have the balls to make a statement and pull him off – he is basically letting Endo be an untouchable who can get away with anything because he is our most famous player. Absolute bullshit.
The game lulled to an end with Oh and Kurata combining well a few times and Usami being tripped in the box again to get not penalty call. I do not want to say much more.
Gamba Man of the Match
Oh Jae-Suk and Shu Kurata for never giving up. Usami close behind. That is all.
Higashiguchi – 3
Oh Jae-Suk – 5.5
Nishino – 2
Iwashita – 1.5
Fujiharu – 3
Endo – 1.5
Konno – 2
Omori – 3.5
Kurata – 6
Abe – 2.5
Usami – 4.5
Futagawa – 3 (Sub)
Okazaki – 4 (Sub)
Lins – 3 (Sub)
We slipped to 16th and back into the relegation places. Kofu won 3-0, Sendai won for the 4th time in a row, Grampus and Omiya got a point and F.Marinos also won 3-0. A terrible weekend all round. We have a hell of a lot to do when J1 restarts in mid-July. Let’s hope the break sorts the players out.
Photo taken from Hochi. No copyright infringement intended. Original here.