S-Pulse 1-1 Nagoya (Nagoya win 5-3 on Pens)
Okazaki 16 -------------- Tamada 56 (pen)
GK K. Yamamoto
Johnsen on for Nagasawa (HT)
Tsujio on for Fujimoto (84)
Hara on for Hyodo (112)
I'm back in England right now and didn't manage to raise myself at 4am to watch this one unfold, but my eyebrow did just shoot up when I noticed Nagasawa started ahead of Johnsen. I don't know the full story here, but why, in a game of this magnitude, we'd play a young rookie ahead of any of our better and more experienced strikers is absolutely beyond me. He got subbed at half time for Frode.
It took extra time and penalties to decide this one, with Ichikawa's shoot out miss proving the difference. He beat the keeper, but not the crossbar. The meaningless lottery of the penalty shootout was played out with noone else missing, which meant Nagoya won 5-3 on spot kicks. Another cup semi final loss isn't exactly a joy to behold, but that's football, and all things considered we've had a better season than many.
Gamba Osaka will be Nagoya's opponents in the final on Friday, and it's hard to look beyond the Osaka outfit adding to their impressive six-trophy trophy haul in recent years. If Osaka do defend the title they won on Jan 1st 2009, Hiroshima will receive the fourth ACL spot for next year. For that reason alone I'm kind if hoping Gamba win this one!
Here are some extended highlights of the game. There's no replays on any of the goals or for the penalty decision (which looks like the Nagoya player just falls over into Arata), so if I can find a better set of highlights I'll add them.