|"You damn right I can take free kicks!!!"|
Masato Morishige was passed fit so our regular central defence pairing was reunited with Yasuyuki Konno naturally coming straight back in after his exertions with the Japan national team. With Hokuto suspended Kenta Mukuhara switched over to left back and Yuhei Tokunaga returned to right back. In midfield and upfront we were again unchanged, and it looked like we were going to have the same old problems in the first ten minutes, as we enjoyed more possession but never looked threatening.
The game was turned on its head in the 11th minute when Tatsuya Yazawa was dispossesed near midfield, which sent the Kyoto defender Morishita off to the races. He played in Takumi Miyayoshi, who took a touch and let fly shooting low and hard, with the ball going through Hitoshi Shiota and into the net to give the visitors a shock lead.
Just as Miyayoshi's goal had come out of the blue, so did our equaliser in the 31st minute, as after the goal Kyoto had looked by far the better side, confidently knocking the ball around and negating any mini threat we could muster. Casual brought the ball up from around the centre circle and, after brushing off a couple of defenders, slipped the ball into Sotan Tanabe's path on the right. Tanabe crossed first time and even though the ball was slightly behind Lucas, the big man got some contact on the ball and knocked it into the ground, with the ball looping just over the 'keeper Mizutani's outstretched arm and into the corner for 1-1.
Almost straight from the restart Naotake Hanyu unleashed a thunderous left-footed drive that was parried away, but we only had to wait five minutes to go ahead, thanks to a classic FC Tokyo counter-attacking goal that was our trademark until the introduction of the blueprint.
We continued to have the better of things up until half time, and then started the second half in perfect fashion with Morishige, given "the freedom of Chofu" by the napping Kyoto defence, firing in a header from six yards from Yazawa's outswinging corner from the right.
Ten minutes later Morishige turned provider, bringing the ball up from a misplayed Kyoto clearance and squaring to Lucas, who was stationed in the D. The big man shifted the ball onto his left and fired away, with the ball taking a slight deflection off a defender and sailing over Mizutani and into the net for his second of the evening.
We'd scored four in 26 minutes, and it was surely job done at 4-1 after an hour. I mentioned this on the podcast, but I would've liked to have seen Daisuke Sakata and Genki Nagasato introduced at this point, as they've both had little time on the pitch since they've come on board. Especially I would've liked to have seen how Sakata got on next to Lucas, as that combination strikes me as one that could prove important for us in the final couple of months of the season.
But anyway Mr Okuma waited until the 71st minute to make a change, when Naohiro Ishikawa replaced Hanyu. Sakata made his entrance with six minutes left, right after "the Kyoto number 5" (sorry, Alair, I forgot your name in the podcast!) had been shown a straight red for hauling Ishikawa down from behind as he raced clean through down the middle of the park.
Lucas stepped up to take the free kick from 25 yards, and curled a brilliant shot into the corner to complete his first league hat-trick for the club. But we weren't finished there, in stoppage time Ishikawa raced away down the right and unselfishly squared the ball for Sakata to tap in his first FC Tokyo goal. Sakata's finish was decent enough, he couldn't miss really, now he just has to work on his 'sha sha shaaa-ing' as he had absolutely no idea what he was doing when the home end called him back for a go after the post-game bowing!
An hour of fantastic, free-flowing football that rivalled the Kokuritsu rout of Kumamoto for me in terms of entertainment level. We haven't played like that too often this season, but when we do its brilliant to watch. Of course the last time we battered Kyoto we drew tamely against Ehime FC in our next game - and our next opponents are...Ehime - so its up to us to use this performance as a springboard to a strong end of the season, but we'll worry about that in Friday's preview.
Its hard to go past hat-trick hero Lucas for Man of the Match (& Tokyo, ChuSpo readers), but in the podcast Tokyo Bairn (who deserves credit for being only 17 off in his #GuessTheCrowd prediction) reserved special praise for Mukuhara (who would have to keep his spot ahead of the returning Hokuto, surely?), while I did the same for Tanabe.