J.League Division 1: Sun, 28th June 2009
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Venue: ND Soft Stadium
On an oppressively hot Sunday afternoon, Frontale left it uncomfortably late before claiming a crucial 3-point haul in Yamagata.
Kengo, Vitor and Chong Tese were all absent from the starting eleven. However, it was Chong's late cameo that was to prove the difference between the two teams.
The visitors dominated the first half with Renatinho looking in confident mood following Wednesday's ACL heroics. The young striker, whose future with the club has now happily been assured til the end of the season, peppered the Yamagata goal with an array of long-range efforts. But the woodwork (twice) and Yamagata keeper, Kenta Shimizu, managed to keep him at bay.
The second half started slowly - both teams clearly struggling in the infernal conditions. But with a quarter of the game to play, some choice substitutions suddenly brought Yamagata to life. On at least 5 occasions Kawashima had to be at his shot-stopping best. And, in stark contrast to the first half, it looked as though Frontale would be lucky to hang onto a draw, never mind grab a winner.
But on 88 minutes, Igawa intercepted in the middle of the park and made a determined charge upfield. Juninho then sent a first-time through ball to the newly-arrived Chong Tese, who showed his class with a calm finish at Shimizu's near post.
All-in-all a lucky escape for the boys in blue (or white, today). Just hope they haven't used up all their lives yet, given the next three fixtures are against Gamba (5th), Kashima (1st) and Niigata (2nd).