J.League Division 1: Sat, 27th September 2008
|2 - 5|
|CHONG 00', 32'
Venue: Tokyo National Stadium
Well, it seems Frontale have had some maintenance done on their blocked goalscoring pipes. Saturday's 5-goal demolition of Kashiwa Reysol will have reminded the other title hopefuls that the boys in black and blue are still a very real danger. But it could have been all the more emphatic were it not for the same old defensive blunders rearing their ugly heads.
It didn't take long to see the fruits of the plumbers' labours. Frontale were a goal up within 60 seconds. A speculative long ball brushed off Chong Tese's head and, while the Kashiwa defenders were deciding who should clear it, the Korean bundled past them and buried it in the back of the net. Poor defending but a decent finish from a man who's been struggling to hit the target of late.
And "the Asian Wayne Rooney" (as the big man's somewhat misleadingly become known) didn't have to wait long for his second. Renatinho, making his first start for Frontale, stole the ball and fed Juninho whose deflected shot fell kindly for Chong Tese to head past the helpless keeper.
The only notable action from a Reysol player in the first half came when Kengo Nakamura found himself booked following a fairly innocuous challenge on the ever-petulant Popo. The Brazilian striker/clown had to summon up all his circus skills - a swan dive followed by a "leaping salmon" and then a lengthy display of writhing on the ground - to con the referee into issuing a yellow card.
However, revenge came swiftly and sweetly. With the miraculously-recovered Popo nipping at his ankles, Juninho went tumbling just outside the Kashiwa penalty area. And up stepped Kengo to dispatch the resulting free kick with some style.
Just before half time, Renatinho made it 4-0 with a clinical striker's finish. The young Brazilian hasn't exactly set the world alight since joining Frontale, but until now he's only been offered a handful of chances from the bench. This, his full debut, still wasn't spectacular but he definitely has the raw talent to become a star at Frontale, assuming he maintains a good mental attitude during his development.
The second half was a very different affair from the first. Perhaps Frontale were worried they might have difficulty getting home if they filled their boots too much.
Initially things seemed to be following the same course, but after Chong Tese had his third (a fine header) ruled out for a very dubious offside, Reysol started to get a foothold in the game.
Frontale were probably guilty of taking their foot of the gas and allowing Kashiwa to mount some pressure, but it was two defensive abominations that actually brought them back into the game.
The first saw Kengo (of all people!) desperately lunging at a ball that Eiji Kawashima was just about to claim. Maybe there was no shout from the keeper, but it ended up with everyone falling over each other and the ball dropping for Reysol's half-time sub, Minoru Suganuma, to score.
The second was slightly less elaborate, but equally comical. Shuhei Terada, in his first game back since injury against Nagoya, somehow tripped over his own legs while attempting to a clear a Reysol cross. The result was a pile of Terada on the floor and a simple strike for full-back Yohei Kurakawa.
Luckily, the charity ended there. And with Kashiwa continuing to throw numbers forward, Frontale sealed the victory in the dying minutes with a lightning-quick counter.
Kengo sent a fiendish 50-yard ball into the wide open space behind the Reysol defence. The flight of the ball eluded the outrushing keeper, leaving Juninho free to angle his shot into the untended net and thereby chalk up his first goal in 11 games.