For the first time in eight games, Gifu tasted victory – and a deserved victory it was as well.
FC Gifu starting XI: Gakuji Ota, Abe, Takagi, Okane, Karube, Takachi, Henik, Keisuke Ota, Fuji, Leo Mineiro, Namba
Gifu showed two changes from the promising performance in Fukuoka 3 days previously with Keisuke Ota replacing the suspended Tsukasa Masuyama while Henik came in for Taisuke Mizuno. In the first half it was more a war of attrition as both sides went in with physicality. Yuki Fuji was on the receiving end of a late tackle from former Gifu favourite Koichi Sato and had to be replaced by Shun Nogaito. After this, Naoya Okane & Sato squared up, Kazumichi Takagi kicked the ball at Nagasaki striker Lee, Henik went in late on Kurogi, Lee tried an overhead kick but kicked Masanori Abe in the face, and both teams were looking raged. Nagasaki did have some chances though; Gakuji Ota tipped a shot over and Takagi denied Lee with a fine last ditch tackle.
Just before half-time, Ryutaro Karube went down after trying to tackle a Nagasaki player on the edge of the area and did some damage to his knee. He had to replaced by Yuto Ono, who came on to make his first appearance in he J.League. It was a shame for Karube as he had been playing well, but Ono’s introduction seemed to give Gifu a bit more impetus as the half came to an end.
In the second half, Gifu looked like a changed team. They went after Nagasaki right from the off and put them under a lot of pressure, and that pressure came to fruition when Gifu took the lead in the 52nd minute. Yuto Ono, having huge influence in the middle of the park, played a superb through ball for Leo Mineiro, and the Brazilian kept his cool to poke past Nagasaki ‘keeper Uekusa. It was Leo’s second goal in as many games, and almost a carbon copy of his goal in Fukuoka. Gifu didn’t stop there though, and they went for the jugular: Leo Mineiro had two close range efforts blocked by Uekusa, while he fired horribly wide with another. Keiji Takachi was swinging in in very dangerous corners, two of which nearly went in, and Junki Endo, on for Namba, lost control of the ball when he was in a good position.
In the end, despite their dominance, Gifu couldn’t add to their tally and the game finished 1-0 to the home side. Whatever Ramos said to the players at half time, it worked a treat. They were really good in the second half, reminiscent of their best performances last year. Leo played well up front, Takachi was his usual excellent self in the middle, Gakuij kept a clean sheet which will do wonders for his confidence. My man-of-the-match was Kazumichi Takagi. The big defender has taken time to get up to speed, but he was superb in this game. He dealt with the physical approach with ease; he marshaled Okane & Abe well, and displayed superb timing with his tackling. A truly excellent performance from Kazumichi.
Next up in Gifu’s Kyushu trifecta is a trip to Giravanz Kitakyushu on Sunday. If they can replicate the performances from the last two games they’ll have a chance of getting something from the game.