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Sunday, April 1, 2012

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Drenched: Nagoya Grampus forward Kensuke Nagai (18) fires a header in the second half against Omiya Ardija at Nack5 Stadium on Saturday. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. KYODO

Grampus, Ardija fight to draw as wind, rain buffet stadium


Staff writer

SAITAMA — Nagoya Grampus and Omiya Ardija battled through foul weather conditions to come away with a 1-1 draw on Saturday afternoon.

Both teams played their part in an entertaining first half despite high winds at Nack5 Stadium, and Colombian midfielder Danilson Cordoba got the second period off to a promising start when he put Grampus ahead in the 48th minute.

But Jun Kanakubo's 55th-minute equalizer came just as a sudden downpour changed the face of the game, with clear-cut chances growing scarce as the players struggled to cope with the elements.

"It was terrible conditions to play in," said Grampus manager Dragan Stojkovic. "At one point I wanted to go to the dressing room because it was very difficult to watch the pitch.

"Watching my team I think we played a very good game. We worked very hard to get the three points but the final result was 1-1. Away, with a strong wind, strong rain and terrible conditions, it's maybe normal to get 1-1."

Grampus striker Josh Kennedy had a goal disallowed for offside with the rain lashing down in the second half, but the 194-cm Australian found the blustery opening period harder to deal with.

"The wind is the worst," he said. "Slippery is one thing, but it's difficult if the wind is swirling and moving the ball around. It's quite difficult but both teams have to deal with it.

"We had enough chances to win the game and we are disappointed that we didn't get the three points rather than blaming it on the conditions."

Both sides had plenty of opportunities to break the deadlock, but none better than the open goal that Omiya's Takuya Aoki somehow contrived to miss in the 41st minute.

Rafael took Seigo Narazaki out of the play after the goalkeeper had strayed out to the touchline, but the Brazilian's persistence went to waste when Aoki blazed his pass over the crossbar.

It was a rare moment of ineptitude in an otherwise quality encounter, and Danilson underlined the point with the opening goal. Marcus Tulio Tanaka brought the ball forward, Keiji Tamada made space with a roll of his studs, and Danilson thumped the ball into the corner of the net from outside the box.

Nagoya's lead did not last long, as Cho Young Cheol lashed a hard cross across the visitors' box for Kanakubo to turn in for the equalizer.

But heavy rain took the fizz out of the rest of the match, with an excellent save from Ardija goalkeeper Takashi Kitano denying Mu Kanazaki with Nagoya's best chance.

"My players' concentration slipped a bit at the start of the second half, and after they scored it was a dangerous time for us psychologically," said Omiya manager Jun Suzuki. "But we managed to get over that and score the equalizer. It's disappointing not to win at home, but all things considered we did OK."

Elsewhere in the J. League, leaders Vegalta Sendai maintained their 100 percent record with a 2-1 win over Cerezo Osaka, but FC Tokyo lost theirs after going down 1-0 to Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Masanobu Matsunami's first game in charge of Gamba Osaka ended in a 1-1 draw with Albirex Niigata, champions Kashiwa Reysol lost 1-0 to Jubilo Iwata, and nine-man Urawa Reds hung on for a 1-1 draw with Kawasaki Frontale.

In the day's late games, Shimizu S-Pulse beat Consadole Sapporo 1-0, Yokohama F. Marinos played Kashima Antlers to a scoreless draw, and Sagan Tosu defeated Vissel Kobe 3-0.



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