J.League Division 1: Sun, 6th July 2008
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KAWAI sent off 88'
Venue: Todoroki Stadium
Sunday night saw Kawasaki Frontale notch up an important, if somewhat fortunate, 3 points. Off the back of three straight league defeats the boys in blue desperately needed a win under their belts if they were to retain even the faintest hopes of a title challenge. And a win is what they got.
The home team started the match brightly with decent chances falling to Ganaha and Murakami. This early pressure was rewarded when the Marinos keeper could only parry a stinging Juninho shot and Ganaha was on hand to bundle the ball into the back of the net.
However, with a lead to defend Frontale began to lose the flow and tempo with which they had started. Possession was lost far too cheaply allowing the visitors to claw their way back into the game.
The balance slowly shifted in Yokohama's favour and they were by far the more dangerous side for the rest of the half. The warning signs were there when a long-range effort from Ryuji Kawai clipped Eiji Kawashima's bar. Then just before half time a deadly Koji Yamase free kick from the edge of the box evened things up.
The second half saw no clear-cut chances from either side. Juninho had a couple of tame efforts and the Marinos failed to get anyone on the end of a dangerous ball that flashed across the 6-yard box. But as time ticked on a draw seemed fairly inevitable.
Then in the dying minutes of the game, the referee deemed Kawai's seemingly innocuous challenge on Juninho worthy of a second yellow card and promptly gave him his marching orders. A man up, but with only minutes left on the clock, Frontale piled on the pressure and from a corner Juninho managed to force in the winner.
Perhaps a draw would have been the fair result, but I think Frontale were due a bit of luck. Hopefully, this result will steel them for the tough trip to Osaka at the weekend. While it's great to have Ganaha back in the side keeping Chong Tese and Juninho on their toes, if they want to be competing with the likes of Gamba they're going to need a lot of work on retaining possession.