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Monday, March 19, 2012

FC Tokyo 3-2 Nagoya

J1 Matchday 2
Whoa buddy! How good was that?! J1 football returned to Aji Sta on Saturday night, and FC Tokyo turned on the style, delivering a superb second half performance en route to a 3-2 win over 2010 champions Nagoya.

A 14 minute burst that featured a brace from Naohiro Ishikawa and a third goal in four games from Aria Hasegawa saw The Gasmen turn the game on its head, cancelling out Keiji Tamada's first half opener, but there were some anxious moments in the closing minutes after Kensuke Nagai pulled it back to 3-2 with an 87th minute goal.

The Tokyo XI showed just one change from the win over Omiya, with Ishikawa replacing Tatsuya Yazawa, but there was some fantastic squad news, with Takuji Yonemoto returning to the 18 for the first time in 11 months following his knee injury sustained at Chiba last April.

Hasegawa started the game alongside Hideto Takahashi in central midfield with Yohei Kajiyama further forward supporting Lucas, and the opening exchanges were fairly even as both sides looked to construct play from the back. Nagoya looked threatening at times, with Josh Kennedy proving an excellent link man, and though Tokyo had some success working the ball down the right through Ishikawa and Yuhei Tokunaga, Aria seemed to be trying a little too hard on his home debut and played some terrible passes when a cooler head was needed.

After a couple of early warnings, we found ourselves behind in the 36th minute, with Kennedy the architect. The big Aussie pounced on a loose ball and slipped a perfect first-time through ball right down the middle for Tamada to run on to, and with Masato Morishige caught up the pitch and Kenichi Kaga flat-footed, Tamada ran in on Shuichi Gonda and slipped the ball past him and inside the far post.

Nagoya seemed content to keep things tight as the second half got going, but their nightmare began in the 59th minute, when Tokyo drew level thanks to a well-worked set up, a bit of luck and a calm finish. Kosuke Ota, who had the best game of his young Gasmen career on this night, advanced into the box on the left, slipped the ball to Hasegawa who knocked it forward to Naotake Hanyu, who was well covered about ten yards out. Roswell turned and shot and the ball deflected off a defender right into the path of Ishikawa on the right, who tapped in past a despairing Seigo Narazaki.

Had a poor game, scored a great goal.
With the game back on level terms things really opened up and Nagoya were ripe for the picking, and just eight minutes after evening things up Tokyo took the lead thanks to Aria, who has certainly developed an eye for a goal since shifting to the capital. From a Tokyo corner on the right Ishikawa played the ball short to Hanyu, received the return pass and picked out Takahashi about 25 yards from goal. Hideto floated over a cross to the far post where Kaga intelligently headed the ball back across goal and perfectly into the path of the advancing Hasegawa, who glanced a header beyond Narazaki to send the home fans into raptures.

If we thought that was good, six minutes later we were in dreamland after Ishikawa grabbed his second that owed as much to Lucas' hard work and Kajiyama's deft through ball as it did to Nao's clinical finish. Lucas battled hard to win the ball back about 40 yards from goal, Casual took possession and slid in Ishikawa, who had cut inside from the left and left his man for dead. With just the advancing Narazaki to beat, Nao kept his cool and first-timed the ball between the Nagoya keeper's legs to complete the stunning turnaround.

Nagoya were stunned, but the former champions don't know when they're beaten, and Nagai got them back to within a goal late on, smashing home through Gonda's legs after Kennedy had deflected Tamada's long free kick on to the bar. Tokyo withstood a late barrage through stoppage time, during which the Nagoya midfielder Danilson was shown a straight red card after he clattered into Ota, though the card may have been shown for his conduct after the initial incident rather than the coming together itself.

Either way the home fans didn't care, and when the ref finally blew up there was immense pride in a superb fightback, one of the best performances Aji Sta has seen for many years. To Kokuritsu tomorrow then, when we host Ulsan in A.C.L. Matchday 2.
On the Gas Man of the Match: Naohiro Ishikawa

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