East Asia Japan

Last Minute Mateus Penalty Snuffs Out the Gasmen

High-flying Nagoya Grampus managed to win their seventh consecutive home game in dramatic fashion on Sunday, edging FC Tokyo 1-0 at the Toyota Stadium to leapfrog the Gasmen into 3rd in the J.League 1 table. Nagoya managed to emerge victorious in their Matchweek 27 encounter thanks to a last-gasp penalty from Brazilian striker Mateus.

Despite losing their mid-week rescheduled match 2-0 at Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Wednesday, Nagoya had turned their stadiums in Aichi Prefecture as virtual fortresses, winning six consecutive home games at either the Toyota Stadium or the Paloma Mizuho Stadium. That impressive home form helped Nagoya keep their hopes for a top three finish alive and Sunday presented them with a great opportunity to stake their claim – beat 3rd placed FC Tokyo at the Toyota and Nagoya will replace them in the top three.

Having ended their four-match losing run on Wednesday with a win over Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, FC Tokyo were eager to keep their spot in the top three and build up some momentum as they seek to gain maximum points in preparation for their departure to Qatar later this month for the resumption of their AFC Champions League campaign. With FC Tokyo already playing more matches than their rivals around them due to their continental commitments, Kenta Hasegawa would want his team to secure their league position first before thinking about their duties in the Asian stage.

Nagoya tested the waters first in the 10th minute with FC Tokyo goalkeeper Go Hatano being called into action to stop a Hiroyuki Abe shot. Hatano then denied Naoki Maeda’s 15th minute attempt, before pulling off an impressive save in the 30th minute to deny Mateus, with Sho Inagaki’s follow-up shot being put behind by an FC Tokyo defender.

The second half saw FC Tokyo pushing forward after being pressed throughout the first half by the hosts, with Adailton firing a long-distanced shot in the 58th minute that went wide off-target. Shuto Abe then fired straight at Nagoya’s Australian goalie Mitchell Langerak in the 66th minute, before in the 68th minute a free-kick from Leandro missed its target completely.

With both Nagoya and FC Tokyo squandering chances after chances, it seems that the match would be destined for a goalless draw…until the third minute of injury time that is. Attempting to pull off some late heroics, Mateus made his way into the FC Tokyo penalty box and fired off a shot that was deflected away by Yojiro Takahagi’s elbow. This prompted the referee to point at the spot – penalty for Nagoya as Takahagi had deflected the shot from inside his own area.

Mateus took it upon himself to execute the penalty and Hatano, who was brilliant throughout the match, was sent the wrong way by the Brazilian. 1-0 Nagoya and with the referee blowing for full-time shortly afterwards, that’s all three points in the bag for Massimo Ficcadenti’s men.

Sunday’s other Matchweek 27 action saw two second half goals from Shonan Bellmare earning them a 2-0 win away at Vissel Kobe.