YOKOHAMA — Brazilian striker Washington fired his new team, Tokyo Verdy 1969, to the Xerox Super Cup title against the favored Yokohama F. Marinos at International Stadium Yokohama on Saturday afternoon.
The 29-year-old forward scored twice in the second half to help Verdy snatch a 2-2 draw in 90 minutes, and then hit the target for a third time in the penalty shootout, which Verdy won 5-4 to clinch the trophy.
It was Washington’s first competitive match for Verdy since moving to Japan from Brazil’s Atletico Paranaense during the winter, and defenders around the league will have taken note of the way he ran the Marinos defense ragged.
The former national team player bagged a record 34 goals in 38 games in the Brazilian championship last year, and looks capable of leading the scoring chart in the new J. League season, which kicks off next weekend after this traditional curtain-raiser.
In a quiet first half, he tested the Marinos defense on a couple of occasions, but each time was denied by goalkeeper Tatsuya Enomoto. But he found his range in the second period, and gave Marinos’ national team defender, Yuji Nakazawa, a particularly torrid time.
After the game, Marinos manager Takeshi Okada said a player of the caliber of Washington was always likely to cause problems.
“He is a national team player, and that kind of thing was always going to be possible,” said Okada.
“Washington looked a bit heavy in the first half, but in the second half he showed extremely good control on the ground and was able to keep possession.”
Overall, though, Okada was not too disappointed with the penalty shootout defeat as his team prepares to begin the defense of the J. League championship next weekend.
“I am extremely satisfied, and I could see the road we must go down to improve,” said Okada, who was missing several senior players due to injury, including defender Naoki Matsuda and forwards Tatsuhiko Kubo, Ahn Jung Hwan, Daisuke Sakata and new Brazilian recruit Adhemar.
Okada’s opposite number, Ossie Ardiles, was celebrating a second trophy inside two months, after guiding Verdy to the Emperor’s Cup title on New Year’s Day.
“It will give the players a lot of confidence, because Verdy had not won anything for a long time,” said Ardiles.
“We have been practicing penalties for three months and I think it showed in the shootout.
“Although we didn’t need penalties in the Emperor’s Cup, we practiced them throughout the competition, and did so again for this match.
“I thought that 2-2 was a fair result, and a penalty shootout is down to luck. Today we had the luck.”
After a scrappy and goalless first half, the match came to life midway through the second half with two goals in four minutes.
Washington, a big but mobile striker who played for Brazil in the 2001 Confederations Cup in Japan, opened the scoring in the 69th minute.
When a Verdy corner on the right was not cleared, Takashi Hirano played the ball back into the middle and Kazuki Hiramoto’s header found Washington, who slipped between two defenders and fired home with his left foot.
But the Verdy celebrations had hardly died down when Marinos equalized in the 73rd minute with a fine solo goal by substitute Masahiro Ohashi, who had been on the pitch for only four minutes.
With just three minutes remaining, Marinos looked certain to be heading for victory when Hayuma Tanaka directed the ball into the Verdy net with his chest. The close-range effort followed a brilliant one-handed save from unlucky Verdy ‘keeper Yoshinari Takagi to keep out Ohashi’s free-kick.
But Washington was not finished yet, and in the second and last minute of time added on by referee Toru Kamikawa, the Brazilian struck again.
Midfielder Yoshiyuki Kobayashi shot for goal from the edge of the box, the ball was blocked by a Marinos defender and Washington reacted quickly to hold off two defenders and score with his right foot.
In bitterly cold conditions, the match went straight to a shootout.
In the third round of kicks, Marinos midfielder Yoshiharu Ueno saw his effort saved by Takagi diving to his left.
This gave Verdy the advantage, and South Korean defender Lee Gang Jin had the honor of stroking home Verdy’s fifth kick to end the contest.
But the afternoon belonged to Washington.