Competition: J.League - Division 1
Date: Saturday, 13th March 2010 (16:00 kick off)
Venue: Toyota Stadium
CHONG 16', 90'
DF KIKUCHI (yellow card 25' / replaced by SONODA 29')
DF KOMIYAMA (yellow card 49')
MF INAMOTO (replaced by YOKOYAMA 46')
FW CHONG (yellow card 42')
FW RENATINHO (yellow card 20' / replaced by KIMURA 77')
That's what it's all about! I'd like to distill that game, bottle it, and stick a label on the front saying "Vintage Frontale". Not that I think it was the best of performances, but it contained all the characteristics that make Frontale a great team to follow.
There were wonder strikes, glaring misses, goalkeeping acrobatics, lucky breaks, and wave after wave of skin-of-the-teeth defending. But most importantly there was drama from start to finish.
Frontale got off to a dream start courtesy of a Renatinho free kick. It was a decent hit from a central position just outside the area, but Nagoya keeper Seigo Narazaki must feel he could have done better.
Still, no sooner had Grampus won their first corner, the scores were level again. Kawashima did well at the far post to block a goal-bound header from former Frontale favourite Magnum. But the ever-agile Mu Kanazaki was quickest to react and lashed in the rebound.
Then, with 15 minutes barely on the clock, Chong Tese notched up his first of the season. It was another free-kick from the edge of the penalty box, but this time a massive deflection off the wall gave Narazaki no chance.
Nagoya came tearing back, giving the Frontale defence all sorts of problems. Josh Kennedy missed the target with a free header and Eiji got a strong hand to a well-struck Keiji Tamada free-kick.
Komiyama seemed solid enough on the left and Inamoto was quietly effective in the middle of the park. But Mori and the centre-backs spent much of the time looking uncomfortably stretched.
The defensive problems weren't helped by Kikuchi's injury, and subsequent departure, after 25 minutes. That said, Sonoda gave a steady performance in his place and continues to look a capable deputy.
Other than a fine mid-range effort from Taniguchi, Frontale did little to trouble Narazaki for the remainder of the half. But it was by no means a wholly one-sided affair. And it was no great surprise when the visitors resumed control of the game after the break.
Rather worryingly, Inamoto failed to re-emerge for the second half. Hopefully it was just a precautionary measure (certainly it wasn't a tactical switch). Adding Inamoto's name (or Kikuchi's for that matter) to the list of walking wounded would be yet another hammerblow to an already injury-stricken squad.
However, the introduction of Yokoyama in place of Inamoto brought about a period of midfield dominance during which Frontale had a handful of good chances to extend their lead. Renatinho and Chong both sent free headers wide of the mark. And Taniguchi struck a swerving drive almost too cleanly as it curled back just far enough to hit the post.
But the tide was set to change with the arrival of Nagoya's Montenegrin midfielder Igor Burzanovic. Suddenly, the home team were in total control and proceeded to pile on the pressure until a breakthrough was inevitable.
It came, all-too-predictably, from Magnum. (He always plays well against his old team and, on this evidence, he's back to his very best.) Burzanovic curled in a free kick from the left and the shaven-headed No. 8 easily escaped the attentions of Kurotsu to head home from 8 yards out.
At this stage, the three points no longer seemed an option and it was looking more like an exercise in damage limitation. But Takahata's decision to bring on Kimura for Renatinho started to give Frontale a bit more traction in midfield. And with a minute of normal time remaining Chong Tese delivered his first piece of magic of the season.
Kimura's cross into the box fell behind him, but running away from goal the Korean managed to swivel 180 degrees and crack one into the corner of the net. Now, if he could just do that a bit more often!
Two wins from two games equals Frontale's best ever start to a J1 season. In 2006 they went on to lose their third away to Ventforet Kofu. What odds a new club record in Yokohama next Saturday?