Coming off the back of an eventful J-League opening clash against Kashiwa Reysol last week, 19,000+ football fans trudged through some truly crap weather on their way to Nissan Stadium for Yokohama F.Marinos’ home opener against Vegalta Sendai on Saturday afternoon.
And did I mention how crap the weather was? Yeah, it was utterly abysmal. Looking THROUGH a heavy downpour of rain in the direction of a distant grass rectangle was probably not the best way any of us could have spent our Saturday afternoon. Bitter? yeah… pretty much. I’ve never been a good loser unfortunately.
Casting our minds back to the previous week where we laid witness to a fast-paced game of football with more goals than you can shake a stick at and it’s not too hard to see why any F.Marinos supporter would feel a little disappointed after the Sendai game. It was, well, very pedestrian to say the least.
I guess an obvious way to counteract a team that is aiming to play their game in their opponents half for the full 90 minutes, would be to adopt the exact same strategy and push every man forward so as to quash any major chance before it even begins. Though this isn’t exactly what happened, Sendai did a very good job at pulling off something very similar and pretty much kept us contained in midfield whilst only really allowing us a handful of half-chances.
Aside from a early chance in the 8th minute when Oguro nodded a Nakamura corner kick into the side netting, the home side had little to get overly excited about as each sniff of a chance was promptly dealt with before it could pick up any real momentum. The same could almost be said for Sendai as our defence were much tighter than last week but when Vegalta were awarded a corner kick in the 43rd minute, a goal mouth scramble involving 3 headers from the guys in yellow and a bit of a stomping on a hapless Iikura, lead to the visitors going a goal up just before the half-time break.
The second half didn’t offer much more in terms of excitement for either team but there were two particular moments where the F.Marinos looked like they may have pulled themselves back into the game, the first of which being a lob shot from Oguro that hit the top of the crossbar and the second being when Kano missed an absolute sitting duck of chance choosing instead to plant the ball in the rafters of the North Stand. To add further insult to injury, Iikura was left with no other option but to bring down Vegalta’s Yuki Muto who slipped through the backline to concede a penalty in the 98th minute. (Anybody remember the days when the stoppage time was only about 3 minutes at most? Yeah, I miss those days too…) Needless to say, the ball was in the back of the net the moment the whistle was blown to end the game at 2-0 to Sendai. Definitely not a fun day. Did I mention how crap the weather was?
Here’s the “highlights”
F.Marinos starting XI: Iikura, Kurihara, Nakazawa, Kanai, Kobayashi, Nakamura, Hyodo, Ogura, Saito, Oguro, and Ono.
F.Marinos substitutions: Ono → Taniguchi (72), Kanai → Kano (77), Kobayashi → Matsumoto Rei (86)
Goals: Akamine (43), Ota (90+8)