2015/9/19 Vissel Kobe 1-2 Albirex Niigata
In a match punctuated by Vissel Kobe substititions, one for a tactical change in formation and two for injuries, Albirex Niigata performed a smash and grab act and walked away with all three points, despite good work from the home team that should have brought them the win.
Vissel manager Nelsinho started with a 4-1-4-1 formation with his usual wing backs a little more muted in the back four, but he soon decided to make changes and sacrificed Daisuke Ishizu before the half hour was up, bringing on Kunie Kitamoto to go to with three backs.
Still missing numerous players - the likes of Keijiro Ogawa, Michihiro Yasuda, Ryosuke Maeda and, still... Marquinhos, all down as unavailable, it was good news to see Pedro Junior returning to action, his appearance on the field coming earlier than anticipated when Kazuma Watanabe was carried off before half time. To add to the worries, Leandro was forced off on the hour mark, also, to be replaced by Asahi Masuyama.
Early exchanges saw Rafael Silva force a save out of Vissel keeper Kaito Yamamoto, while a Jung Woo-young piledriver had Albirex keeper Tasuya Morita tipping the ball away from the top corner.
Watanabe flicked the ball goalwards in the 28th minute, after good work from Ryota Morioka and Leandro created the chance, but a desperate clearance off the line denied the Vissel striker.
Vissel finally got the goal they deserved on the hour mark as Morioka curled a shot from the edge of the area around two defenders and in at the keeper's left hand post. Jung had found Morioka in midfield and there seemed no immediate danger but the Samurai Blue midfielder advanced, steadied and saw the opening.
The equaliser was not long in coming, within four minutes Hiroshi Ibusuki pounced on a long ball that bounced higher than anticipated it seemed, deceiving Yamamoto as he came out, Ibusuki took advantage, slotting the ball under the onrushng keeper to make it 1-1.
And so it almost became the Masuyama show, as the 18-year-old on for Leandro proceeded to (Usain) bolt through the away defence at every opportunity he could, his speed taking him past opposition defenders with ease, but the final product wasn't quite there.
With Vissel going for the win, there were gaps being left and a quick break and an exchange of passes with Ryohei Yamazaki gave Kosuke Yamamoto the opening and his fine finish gave Albirex an unexpected bonus in their fight against relegation.
Team - Yamamoto, Shu.Takahashi, Bueno, Iwanami, Soma, Jong, Mihara, Morioka, Watanabe (Pedro Junior, 39), Ishizu (KItamoto, 27), Leandro (Masuyama, 60)
60' Ryota MORIOKA