Avispa 2 : 1 Toyama
I’d really like for one of these match reports to not be mainly focused on the actions of the team and not referee, I am paying money to go and watch football after all; unfortunately yet again it is a match where most of the discussion afterwards was about the decisions made by the referee.
There were times in this match when I actually really liked the referee; he let the game flow in face of some hard tackling. This was helping Avispa as the players looked up for the game, and were fighting (in a fair way), with Takeda and Morimura in particular putting in some hard running and battling for the ball.
Coming from England this is the sort of game I like to watch. It meant that a hard tackle on Nakahara (he got scissor tackled from one side and kicked at the same time) went without a yellow card being brandished, but in terms of making an enjoyable game to watch I could let that go.
I have said from the start of the season that I believe the midfield anchor role is the most important position for us, despite all the attacking talent we have, but I didn’t expect Takeda to be the player to put his name on it. He came to the club as a left-back, but similar to Emmanuel Petit at Arsenal has made a transition to the position and is starting to look good there.
His biggest attribute is his intelligence, and he knows when it is important to make a tackle, when to make runs forward (which go untracked as he is coming from deep), and what particularly impressed me when to stand on the ball for an opposition free-kick to stop it being taken quickly. All the time also managing to stay clear of a booking.
Takeda and Morimura were having their best games for us, not giving midfield any time on the ball and the high press which Pusnik has tried to bring to the club was working very well.
A little surprise in the formation was Jogo being played as a straight wing-back. I’ve said I really like him here, but am not sure if he is willing to play the position.
He gave what might be the best performance I have seen from him in this game. He didn’t score any wild goal, or do some sublime skill, but for 90 minutes work this was up among the best he’s ever been. He was up against Shoya Nakajima in this game. From what I saw in this game Nakajima will surely one day play for Japan (his low centre of gravity, speed and running was Maradona-esque at times), but when up against Jogo he didn’t get any time to do real damage in this game and ended up moving centrally to try and do something.
Jogo’s diving interception led to our first goal as he slid in and got the ball forward to be knocked out for a corner.
Morimura put in a fantastic cross which landed directly onto Sakai’s head to score and maintain our new ability at corners.
We then looked like we could double the score through a penalty as Ishizu was brought down between 2 players as he ran into the box.
In reality the contact was fairly small, and mostly arm fighting rather than across his legs. The referee waved play on (but should have booked Ishizu for diving if he really thought it wasn’t a penalty, but was obviously not totally sure), and I was happy with that as he had up to that point showed he wanted to players to stay on their feet where possible. Unfortuantely he didn’t show consistency on this for Kataller’s later goal.
Avispa did score again quicly afterwards through a lightning quick counter. After catching a header at goal well Kamiyama didn’t stop to admire his work and released the ball to Nakahara quickly. Nakahara plays so much better with Takeda behind him and found Ishizu with an excellent ball into space.
Ishizu didn’t stop to look around, running straight at goal. With Sakata taking a defender away he had space to run to the edge of the box and double the lead with a shot just inside the far post.
Avispa were well on top and could have made the lead 3-0 and finished the game just minutes later.
Againt showing excellent work on the training pitch Pusnik told Takeda exactly what he wanted him to do; dupe the defence close together, collect a ball around the crowd and hit at goal.
It worked almost perfectly, and would have been a goal which everyone could be really pleased of. The referee decided to discount it for off-side despite Takeda shooting from outside the box; in the stadium I had no idea why, and with no replays it was very hard to understand what had happened.
Watching the game back later I think that actually it was a very good decision:
There’s no point in complaining about referee’s if you can’t also say when they get a decision correct.
The referee would then undo his good work by an awful 2nd half performance.
Almost as if he wanted to make the game ‘more interesting’ he gifted Toyama a goal.
Nakajima had come inside to try and force something to happen, and had the skills to cause us problems.
Bursting into the box he powered past Lee, but overhit the ball and saw it was going to be collected by Kamiyama. Taking a chance he went to ground with very little contact. If the referee had given the penalty for Ishizu earlier I’d understand why he gave this one, but there was much, much less arm fighting on this than in that decision but he couldn’t give the penalty fast enough.
No-one really knew who the foul was given against, and he motioned with a closed fist that Lee had pulled Nakajima back. That definitely didn’t happen, and Lee motioned towards the big screen to watch how badly he had got the decision wrong (although obviously there was no replay, this being Japan).
With Toyama given momentum it was exactly the situation we had faced with Oita, and we came very close to conceding an equaliser with the impressive Morimura and Takeda off the pitch for an ineffective Punosevac and Hirai.
Fortunately the Toyama #2 managed to miscue a shot unmarked from about 1m out to keep us in the lead.
There was time for the single worst piece of refereeing I have seen this season as the ball was quickly delivered to Ishizu upfield where running into the box he was scissor-tackled from behind by a desperate defender.
I couldn’t get a clear angle from TV, but twitter user Tatakikatsuotook this photo where you can see what sort of a tackle it was.
That would be a foul regardless, but what the angle doesn’t totally show (and I could see from sitting directly next to it) was that the ball was about 1.5m in front of Ishizu at the time with the player not getting anywhere near it.
I’ve seen a few people on twitter and blogs saying that they think referees were correct in some of the other decisions which I’ve thought were crazy. I’d be interested to see if anyone can defend this one!