J.League Division 1: Sun, 24th May 2009
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BRUNO QUADROS(sent off 57')
Venue: Ajinomoto Stadium
Sunday afternoon's "Tamagawa Classico" didn't quite live up to its name. But what the match lacked in overall quality it certainly made up for in excitement, with Frontale turning round a two-goal deficit to steal victory from the jaws of defeat.
Three goals in the space of ten minutes from Juninho, Taniguchi and Renatinho left the FC Tokyo supporters stunned and no doubt slightly sickened. However, unlike Frontale's Lazarus-style comeback against Kashiwa Reysol last season, this one needed a hefty dollop of help from a member of the opposing team.
Bruno Quadros, the FC Tokyo centre-back, was undoubtedly the villain of the piece. With the hosts having just hammered a second nail into Frontale's coffin, the visitors put together their most penetrating move of the game. Chong Tese latched onto a through ball from Juninho and as he homed in on goal Senhor Quadros mindlessly tugged the Korean from behind.
This moment of lunacy not only gave Juninho the opportunity to pull one back from the penalty spot, but also gave the referee no alternative but to reach for his pocket and pull out a red card.
Now there's a pretty good chance Chong would have scored had Quadros not intervened. However, there's an even better chance that FC Tokyo wouldn't have lost this game had they played the full 90 minutes with eleven men on the field. Still, very refreshing that the match-defining moment of defensive stupidity didn't come from a Frontale player.
The first half started with both teams playing some very loose football. But while FC Tokyo slowly grew into their game, Frontale seemed incapable of stringing together more than two passes.
Sekizuka sent out an attacking side, with Renatinho starting alongside Juninho and Chong Tese. But his decision to play Tasaka instead of Vitor Junior had an adverse effect on the team's cohesion. It's no coincidence that the penetrating move that brought about the penalty incident took place almost immediately after Vitor's introduction. (I don't want to give Vitor too much credit, cos he hasn't been brilliant of late. But there's much more balance to the midfield when he's in it.)
Kikuchi and Igawa fought bravely in the centre of defence once again. But their limitations were exposed by the strength of FC Tokyo centre-forward, Cabore.
Yasuyuki Konno's opening strike resulted from a succession of corners that Frontale failed to clear. However, the initial surge to this spell of pressure came when Igawa buckled under Cabore's close attention. And only a last-ditch lunge from Kikuchi prevented the Brazilian marksman from capitalising sooner.
The roles were reversed for FC Tokyo's second. This time Kikuchi was muscled off the ball and no-one was able to stop Naohiro Ishikawa from rifling Cabore's cut-back into the corner of the net.
The sending off was obviously the turning point of the game. And against ten men Frontale started to show the kind of passing and movement that had eluded them thus far.
The referee had been spot-on with the penalty and the dismissal of Quadros, but he was perhaps a little generous to Frontale in the lead up to the equaliser. First of all, he awarded a free kick on the edge of the penalty area after Chong appeared to have lost out in a challenge fair and square.
Then he allowed play to go on when Juninho took a quick one that found Taniguchi free on the right, and which young Tani duly thundered into the top right corner. Nothing wrong with this per se, although the "wait for the whistle" approach has been predominant amongst officials this season.
Three minutes later the turn-around was complete. Juninho was again instrumental in the winner - breaking down the left and sending in a deep cross which Renatinho leapt acrobatically to direct into an open net.
With his opponents well and truly on the ropes, Sekizuka decided to play it safe by removing Renatinho and bringing on Yokoyama for the last ten minutes. This almost proved to be a costly mistake as it allowed FC Tokyo to regroup and gave the game a rather nerve-jangling finish. But Frontale were able to see things out and scramble up to a lofty 4th place in the table.