S-Pulse 5-0 Shonan Bellmare
Okazaki 82, 88
Iwashita on for Bosnar (45)
Ito T. on for Ono (69)
Omae on for Hyodo (83)
It's a bit different to England. The honour of being the ones to put the final nail in a team's relegation coffin is something you enjoy every moment of. You rub their noses in it over the course of the 90 minutes, and afterwards revel in the footage of their fans crying on the terraces. That's not exactly what happened today as we put our total against Shonan for the season to 11, at the same time ensuring they are down and out with four games still to play.
The first half was pretty uninspiring truth be told, with the most interesting thing being Nishibe breaking the goal. He stopped a corner going straight in, but wasn't able to stop himself tumbling into the side netting, pulling down a stanchion with him. It took a while, but the goal was fixed and play restarted. Rather than the clock stopping as you might expect, the interruption was added on as stoppage time. Hence Ono latching onto a perfect pass by Jungo to smash the ball home - in the 57th minute of the first half. It took the roof off the stadium, and changed the game.
Up until half time we'd not really troubled the Shonan goal, but in the second half Bellmare's pretty clueless play was finally made to pay. Johnsen bagged a first goal for a while, and not long after the Ref went momentarily mad and awarded the softest penalty I've ever seen. Not only was Okazaki not fouled (merely made contact with a Shonan defender), but when he finally lost his footing (it wasn't a dive) he was a good foot or two outside the box.
Well, whatever. It made no difference. Shonan didn't get relegated on a dodgy penalty. They've been poor all season. After that, apart from one very good save from Nishibe, it was all S-Pulse, and Okazaki bagged a brace to take his total up to 13 for the year so far. Four games to go. Can we make an ACL position? Probably not, but that's not going to stop me and my UKU buddies hitting Sendai for a weekend of football, booze, scarf twirling and arm waving S-Pulse style!
¡Olé olé, olé olé!