2018/2/23 Sagan Tosu 1-1 Vissel Kobe
Sagan Tosu 1-1 Vissel Kobe
The J.League opened its 2018 campaign with the first of their 2018 season Friday night matches that DAZN and the J.League feel will add interest to proceedings each week. One thing this game threw up in the first two minutes, though, was more than interesting, as the first "controversial" decision of the season came just after the minute mark when Vissel Kobe's experienced centre back, Daisuke Nasu, was accused of holding back the home team's young forward, Kyosuke Tagawa, and a penalty kick was given. It could be noted that the Vissel defender's hand going over the shoulder of his opponent yards outside the box, was hardly a foul at all, but certainly nowhere near the place where the player eventually threw himself theatrically to the ground. Nevertheless, a PK was given and duly dispatched by Tagawa. 1-0 to the home team.
This touch of fortune buoyed the home team who grew in confidence as the half progressed although never really had Vissel Kobe in any real danger of doubling their lead. Lukas Podolski - the season's new captain - was leading his troops and they were holding off anything that was thrown at them and it remained 1-0 at the break.
The 2nd half was a different story as Vissel took control of the game and pummelled their host's defence, peppering in goal attempts (double that of their opponents) and racking up 12 corners as they did everything but score a goal. Just after the break Hirofumi Watanabe has produced a snap shot over his head against the bar after goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda dropped the ball as Vissel looked for their way back into the match. Yoshiki Matsushita then stung the 'keeper's fingers with a superb 20-yard volley in the 68th minute.
Manager Takayuki Yoshida had made changes on 65 minutes, bringing in Wellington and Keijiro Ogawa for Kazuma Watanabe and Wataru Hashimoto, and the away team just continued to press for a goal. Thai international Theerathon made his Vissel debut in the 75th minute, coming on for So Fujitani, and made his mark with some great movement and a lovely free kick that caused the 'keeper some problems, but still the home defence somehow held out!
Vissel finally got their just reward after Mike Havenaar latched on to a pull back from Wellington to half volley home a peach of a goal. The whole of Havenaar's 194cm frame powered the ball home through a forest of bodies! The home team held out for a draw in the end and were very relieved at the final whistle.
Team - Kin, Fujitani (Theerathon, 75), Nasu, H.Watanabe, Hashimoto (Ogawa, 65), Matsushita. Mita, Mihara, Podolski, K.Watanabe (Wellington, 65), Havenaar
Goal: Havenaar 87'