A much more spirited match than anyone likely expected ended in a draw for the Gasmen as a 10-man Jubilo struck in stoppage time for the equalizer. The boys in blue and red controlled the pitch for most of the game and got off twice as many shots, but in the end it wasn’t enough to get the three points.
Tokyo, running what looked almost like a 4-2-2-2 formation, performed very sloppily in the first 15-20 minutes, turning the ball over several times. Jubilo was not able to capitalize and Tokyo settled down, peppering the opposing keeper with shots that didn’t quite find their way into the net.
Cabore was stretchered to the sideline following a hard tackle in the first half, and while he walked back onto the field he was replaced a few minutes later by Akamine, a troubling sign. Moniwa fell hard in the second half and took a minute to get back up, but he would go on to stay in the rest of the game.
Akamine’s goal in the second half was a beauty and although they weren’t able to score a second goal (another troubling sign), the fact that Tokyo outshot Jubilo 15-7 is a promising sign, as are some of the shots from farther out in the box that the team took, particularly an early effort by Nagatomo. Tokyo’s attackers love to get in nice and close for their goals but the sooner more players start emulating strikes like the one Hanyu delivered against Verdy, the better they’ll be – otherwise their opponents will be able to thwart them by crowding the box.
Another surprise of the night was Hirayama – Jofuku obviously had enough faith in him following his performance against Verdy to put him back in the starting lineup, and Hirayama showed enough hustle to elicit cheers from the fans several times over the course of the night, several times pushing dangerously close to the Jubilo goal and twice getting a shot off. If Cabore’s early exit turns out to be an injury look for No. 13 to start across from Akamine on Saturday.
Jubilo’s goal happened during a 4-minute stoppage time, in a surprise push following NIshi’s ejection that didn’t quite catch Tokyo off guard but at the same time shouldn’t have been allowed to take place to begin with. If I saw it correctly, Shiota got his hands on the first shot and batted it away, but Jubilo midfielder Komano got the rebound and slammed in the goal.
Starting Lineup: Shiota (GK), Tokunaga (DF), Bruno (DF), Moniwa (DF), Nagatomo (DF), Kajiyama (MF), Konno (MF), Kanezawa (MF), Kurisawa (MF), Cabore (FW), Hirayama (FW)
Substitutions: Akamine (Cabore, 35′), Otake (Kurisawa, 62′), Ikegami (Kanezawa, 70′)
Goals: Akamine (51′)
Yellow Cards: Kurisawa (62′)
Starting Lineup: Kawaguchi (GK), Suzuki (DF), Tanaka (DF), Kayoshi (DF), Komano (MF), Kawamura (MF), Ueda (MF), Naruoka (MF), Nishi (MF), Jiushinyo (FW), Nakayama (FW)
Substitutions: Bandai (Juishinyo, 62′), Inuzuka (Naruoka, 66′), Nanami (Nakayama, 77′)
Goals: Komano (89′)
Yellow Cards: Suzuki (43′), Tanaka (78′), Nishi (87′), Nishi (89′)
Red Cards: Nishi (’89)
Also, while I was taking some photos around the stadium to put on here, I was interviewed by FC Tokyo staffers who put together the matchday programs for their Blue & Red Caravan feature, which is basically little mini-interviews with the fans (in my case, favorite player, how I got into FC Tokyo, etc). I managed to pull it off in Japanese without sounding like a total retard (or at least they’ll edit any retardedness out) and if they’re to be believed I’ll be featured in the program for Saturday’s match against Kawasaki. I’m… afraid. But I did mention this blog so here’s hoping they include the URL!
In other Group B action, Shimizu S-Pulse apparently curb-stomped a Hulk-less Verdy to the tune of 5:0. Ouch. I feel like I should send the guys over at Soilent Green 1969 a funeral wreath or something.