2015/10/11 Vissel Kobe 1-4 Kashima Antlers
Without so many players - for whatever reason - Vissel Kobe still went into this 2nd leg match away at Kashima Antlers with an attacking-minded line-up as they dreamed of a Nabisco Cup Final appearance.
Missing all of their foreign players, Vissel fielded a complete starting XI AND bench of Japanese. Quite a unique occurrence in Japanese football these days! Apart from their Brazilian contingent of Leandro, Pedro Junior, Marquinhos and Bueno, also missing were Jung Woo-young (on international duty with Korea), Keijiro Ogawa, Kaito Yamamoto and more, pushing Vissel manager Nelsinho into using Masatoshi Mihara in central defence, although veteran Kunie Kitamoto was on the bench.
Vissel went behind - and 3-1 down on aggregate - in the 16th minute to an Atsutaka Nakamura goal but were soon back on level terms on the day through Kazuma Watanabe, who had the simple task of side-footing the ball home after Asahi Masuyama had left defenders for dead on the right side.
It was Watanabe again, moments later, breaking free and forcing a save from goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata, as Vissel looked for more goals. And, yet again, after an initial Daisuke Ishizu cross-shot was blocked by Sogahata, Watanabe was foiled by desperate defending on the follow-up as Antlers kept the game level at the break.
Antlers got the break they needed to dampen Vissel spirits when a corner was cleared by the Vissel defence and headed back into the danger area. Three players ran back from an offside position - it seems - including Gen Shoji, who made the header to create the space that the goal came from. The assistant referee had his eye on the ball, not the line - a basic error - and replays were not even considered by TV. If you get a chance, take a look! 2-1 to Antlers, 4-2 on aggregate and Vissel now forced to open up, chase the game and leave the gaps that led to two more goals from Mu Kanazaki and Caio to seal the match for the home team.
Kanazaki's second goal of the day was a personal tragedy for Takuya Iwanami, who got to the pass to dispossess the forward on a left-sided counter attack, but then tried to be too clever and not give away a corner. The defender fell, and, as he went over he poked the ball away from his forward but into the path of the grateful Kanazaki, who made it 3-1 despite the presence of Shohei Takahashi on the line, who almost stopped the ball from going in but, in the end, saw his block creep over the line at the post.
Caio finished off Vissel's gallant efforts taking on two defenders to score with his right foot and make the final aggregate score 6-2 to Kashima.
Team - Tokushige, Iwanami, Mihara, Sho.Takahashi, Shu.Takahashi, Yasuda, Maeda, Morioka, Masuyama (Tashiro, 67), Watanabe, Ishizu (Tanaka, 86)
Goal: 21' Kazuma WATANABE