Cristian Nazarit’s double was not enough for Gifu as they succumbed to a very impressive Shonan Bellmare side in beautiful weather at the Nagaragawa Stadium

Gifu were unchanged from the side that lost at Yamagata last week meaning Shun Nogaito kept his place while Alex Santos was fit enough for the bench. Shonan, as predicted, kept faith with the same team that dispatched Consadole Sapporo last week.

Gifu were first to threaten, and could have taken the lead when Namba found Stipe in the penalty area, but the Croatian was a little off balance and fired his shot over. Bellmare slowly started to impose themselves and should have taken the lead when Wataru Endo somehow scuffed a shot wide from only 2 yards out. The visitors did eventually take the lead in the 27th minute, Brazilian striker Wellington powering a header into the far corner after a nice cross from the left. Shonan went further in front in the 43rd minute, Ryota Nagaki rifling a shot under Kawaguchi after Taketomi’s shot had come off the post. Gifu gave themselves a lifeline just before halftime when a Taisuke Mizuno through ball found Nazarit, and the Colombian slotted the ball past Akimoto. It was the first goal conceded by Shonan in 2014. Half time, and it was 2-1 to the visitors.

The second half was still mainly controlled by the visitors, and only a superb save by Kawaguchi, tipping a Wellington shot on to the post, kept the hosts in the game. As it was, Bellmare got their sealing goal five minutes from the end. Great work down the right from Seiya Fujita led to him crossing to the back post where Yuto Misao was the quickest to react. Gifu did get another goal back in stoppage time, and again it was the Mizuno-Nazarit combination which came up with it. Another delightful through pass from the ever-improving midfielder set Nazarit free, and he smashed the ball under Akimoto to give Gifu brief hope, but they didn’t have enough time to attack again, and it finished 3-2 to Shonan.

Positives: Obviously Nazarit’s double is a good place to start. He looks like he has all the attributes to score plenty this season. He doesn’t quite look 100% fit yet, but when he is he will take some stopping. Mizuno was again excellent, and once again, Masanori Abe will have learned a lot from his tussles with Wellington. The Brazilian forward looks like he will be a handful for J2 defences.

Negatives: Early in the second half, Stipe came off with what looked like a serious hamstring injury, maybe a severe pull or even a tear. The defence still looks exposed at times but, hey, what are you going to do? Gifu set up with an attacking intent and it will leave holes at times. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Henik or Moriyasu being used a bit more in future games to give a little more solidity.

Next up: Ehime FC, Ningineer Stadum, next Sunday, 4pm KO.

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