In what would turn out to be a pretty disastrous weekend of football for all of the top 4 teams, the F.Marinos perhaps came away with the most disappointing of scorelines as we blew a one goal lead in just over 2 minutes to finish up on the wrong side of a 3-1 drubbing…
Saturday’s game against Sendai was always going to be a tough game when you look at the quality of Vegalta’s squad not to mention the remarkable level of resilience that they’ve showed from the very start of the season and throughout the whole earthquake disaster. They are a team that quite rightly deserve to be in the upper echelons of the league table and this was exactly the message they wanted to get across to all the supporters that made the trip to Nissan Stadium on a sunny Saturday afternoon…
The F.Marinos got off to a great start by immediately applying pressure on the Sendai defence the moment the whistle was blown with both Ono and Watanabe looking deadly in front of the goal. Surprisingly however, it was actually Yuzo Kobayashi that drew first blood in the 3rd minute when finding himself free, he dashed into the centre of the box to smash in a cross from Taniguchi on the right wing. The keeper never saw him coming and neither did we as the cross was clearly intended for Watanabe who was just edging free of his marker inside the box.
It was a no-nonsense start to what we hoped would be the first of many more to come but, just a mere 7 minutes later, Sendai were quick to discover our weak link and they were going to make us pay dearly for it. On the 10 minute mark, Makoto Kakuda found himself not only totally unmarked but also in a prime position to slam the ball home as he calmly received a nice easy back-pass just outside the area before drilling the ball past Iikura into the lower left side of the goal. Ouch.
To make matters worse, Sendai decided that being level was obviously not good enough and so with a nicely timed run from former NT striker, Atsushi Yanagisawa, and a even better timed run down the wing and a cross from Korean midfielder, Yong Gi Ryan, Sendai took the lead as Yanagisawa beat Nakazawa in the air to connect with the cross and head the ball into the far right side netting just 2 minutes after the equalizer.
Basically, the problem for Yokohama was that we simply couldn’t control the flow of play in midfield. The loss of Shunsuke has been big enough but we’ve ploughed on admirably without him. It’s actually the additional loss of Shohei Ogura in front of the backline that really cost us on Saturday. Ogura is a real workhorse and watching us play on Saturday without him served as a stark remainder as to how instrumental to our midfield he really is. Theoretically, Sendai’s equalizer probably never would have come about the way it did if he was on the pitch as there’s no way he would have let Kakuda mill around unmarked in that position. In short, Vegalta did their homework before making the trip to Yokohama and it clearly paid off in spades.
Not long after the second-half restart, Sendai pushed the game out of our reach in the 55th minute when a blundered attempt at clearing the ball away from goal courtesy of Kurihara, actually resulted in a lovely pass to the incoming Sendai strikers meaning it was only going to be a matter of seconds before they bury the ball in the back of the net for a third time. Sure enough, a nod to the feet of Shingo Akamine was all it took to send the away end into raptures as they knew that all 3 points were in the palms of their hands.
Being 2 goals down meant we just had to focus on the daunting task of drawing level which seemed to be the catalyst for some rather confusing substitution decisions on our part. Firstly taking off Kazuma Watanabe for Oguro in the 57th minute was a little premature in my opinion because we all know that Oguro plays best when he only has 10 mins to waste. Secondly, though I welcome the introduction of the criminally neglected Kenta Kano any day of the week, putting him on and taking Ono OFF simply baffled me. Ono is a constant threat on goal and EXACTLY the sort of player you need up front when you’re a goal or two down! Bringing on Kim Kunhoan for Kobayashi was a smart move but unfortunately it didn’t change much because he had to play alongside a heavily marked Oguro, not to mention against a now deep-sitting Sendai defence that had no intention of budging a inch in our favour whatsoever.
It was with great disappointment that the ref put the whistle to his lips to bring the game to an end and leaving us wondering how to remedy our rather suspect looking midfield. Let’s see how we play on Wednesday shall we..?
Here’s the highlights:
Yokohama F.Marinos: Iikura, Kobayashi, Aoyama, Nakazawa, Kurihara, Taniguchi, Kanai, Aria, Hyodo, Ono, and Watanabe.
Vegalta Sendai: Hayashi, Sugai, Byung Kuk, Kamata, Park Ju Sung, Tomita, Kakuda, Matsushita, Yong Gi Ryan, Yanagisawa, and Akamine.
F.Marinos Substitutions: Watanabe → Oguro (57), Ono → Kano (68) Kobayashi → Kunhoan (76)
Goals: Kobayashi (3), Kakuda (10), Yanagisawa (12), Akamine (55)