Competition: AFC Champions League - Group E
Date: Tuesday, 9th March 2010 (19:00 kick off)
Venue: Todoroki Stadium
|KIKUCHI 40'||GRIFFITHS 36'
WANG CHANGQING 65', 86'
MF INAMOTO (yellow card 57')
MF TASAKA (replaced by KIMURA 88')
FW KUROTSU (replaced by NOBORIZATO 88')
FW RENATINHO (replaced by YAJIMA '70)
Well that was a difficult game to watch. And not just because it's nigh-on impossible to see a white ball on a pitch that's 6 inches deep in snow.
On the whole, Frontale didn't actually play too badly (if you ignore the lack of composure in the final third and the tendency to leave themselves exposed at the back). You could always point to the injury list and the freak weather conditions as excuses. But in fairness, it was simply yet another example of what happens when you don't take your chances.
Beijing opened the scoring with what may well have been their first shot of the match. Frontale lost a couple of 50-50 midfield challenges in quick succession which suddenly left Ito exposed to a foot race against Australian striker Joel Griffiths. No prizes for guessing who won, and the former Socceroo calmly slotted his shot under big Eiji.
Frontale's response was almost immediate - Kikuchi getting some kind of touch on a Tasaka corner to settle the freezing home fans' nerves.
Frontale continued their dominance at the start of the second half. Renatinho came closest, hitting the outside of the post from a tight angle. But again, just when it looked like they might find a way through Beijing's stubborn defence, they were punished on the break.
This time Kikuchi got back well to prevent a shot from Brazilian speedster Otto. But Ito seemed to lose his bearings and left half-time substitute Wang Yongqing free at the edge of the box to send a low shot into the far corner.
This second goal seemed to knock the wind out of Frontale's sails and the visitors began to enjoy their first real spell of extended pressure. Renatinho made way for Yajima and the troops eventually managed to regroup with around ten minutes remaining.
But the result was put beyond doubt in the dying minutes when super-sub Wang Yongqing evaded an increasingly flimsy offside trap and chipped a deft lob over the stranded Kawashima. The snow played its part, taking the pace off the through-ball and practically teeing it up for the lob. But in reality the game was already lost.
It's still early days, but it's pretty difficult to be optimistic about the ACL at this stage. Frontale have a six-point gap to close in four games, the last of which is away to to Beijing. And while there's no suggestion that they've been outclassed in either of their Group E encounters so far, it's hard to see them showing the levels of consistency for what will need to be a near-100% record from their remaining fixtures.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shqSrWL1i80