S-Pulse 3-2 C. Osaka
Hyodo 17 ----------------- Own Goal 82
Fujimoto 37 -------------- Martinez 94
GK Nishibe (yellow 73)
DF Tsujio (yellow 50)
DF Hiraoka (yellow 9)
MF Honda (yellow 93)
MF Ono (yellow 46)
FW Okazaki (yellow 41)
Ito on for Ono (66)
Nagai on for Johnsen (82)
Stuart Atwell. Remember that name if you don't already know it. He's the referee who single handedly tore the heart and soul out of this game. In a match with not one memorably dirty tackle to speak of, the 27 year old Englishman dished out card after card after card after card. Ten, count 'em, TEN yellow cards.
This is the fellow who is the subject of an article titled: Is Atwell the Worst Referee in the History of the Premier League? and is the chap with a list of "controversies" (a polite way of saying "King Kong sized fuck ups") as long as your arm. And let's be clear: today was no fluke - he showed eight yellows in his last J. League match. He's in the country under an FA / JFA exchange program, and the sooner his three weeks are up, the better for everyone. I can't believe anyone is benefiting from this arrangement (apart from the FA, who have got shot of him for a month).
It's a shame when a report must start with two paragraphs of moaning about the referee, so I'll leave it there. As for the game, watching Cerezo's swift, tricky passing game, their off the ball movement and deadly final ball into the box, it's no surprise they have won four of their last five, including a 5-0 away demolition of Hiroshima and a 2-1 defeat of Kashima. We could have been 2-0 down by the time we were 1-0 up.
At 2-0 down their game started coming apart I felt, but were still causing problems right up to the end. Their two goals came from free kicks on the edge of the area. After 85 minutes of Mr Atwell playing the most infuriating pedant you can imagine, the players clearly realised they could flop to the ground at any slight contact with a high chance of being rewarded with a free kick. And so flop the players did with predictable results. The two late goals took the sheen off the result, but in a game torn to shreds by the goon in black, I'm just happy that 1) we won, and 2) noone got sent off.
I'll write a little more tomorrow, but I gotta get some kip - work on the morrow!
THURSDAY EDIT: I never got to write more about this, so I'll hand over to Matsu at The Rising Sun with his report. Click here.