SAITAMA – Vissel Kobe continued their revival under manager Akira Nishino as substitute Yuzo Tashiro pounced to claim a 2-2 draw with Omiya Ardija on Saturday.
Vissel arrived at Nack5 Stadium looking for their fourth win in five games after hiring former J.League and Asian Champions League title-winning Gamba Osaka manager Nishino in late May, and Hideo Tanaka set the Kansai side on its way with the opener in the 20th minute.
But Omiya, itself under new management after bringing in Slovenian Zdenko Verdenik to replace Jun Suzuki last month, replied through teenage striker Shintaro Shimizu six minutes later, before the home side took the lead through Daisuke Watabe midway through the second half.
But Tashiro had the final say with a header seven minutes later, earning a point and saving the blushes of teammate Ryo Okui after the right back incurred the manager’s wrath due to his part in Omiya’s first goal.
“At halftime I lost my temper at an individual player for the first time in a long while — at No. 25,” said Nishino. “Due to his mistake our rhythm changed completely. Before that we had been playing at a good pace, but after the tide turned.
“We were able to win the ball well but we couldn’t always make that transition from defense to attack effectively. We don’t have to try and play on the break all the time.”
Nishino’s counterpart in the opposite dugout was also left frustrated by his players’ actions.
“I’m disappointed with the result, because the players were very motivated for this game,” said Verdenik. “The players made some tactical mistakes. Even though the mistakes were less than in previous games, we still gave away two goals. We knew they would try to hit us on the counterattack and we focused in training on how to stop it, but still they got through.”
Omiya’s Olympic team midfielder Keigo Higashi wasted two good chances to get his name on the scoresheet before heading to London, shooting straight at goalkeeper Kenta Tokushige in the 10th minute before missing a header at the back post a minute later.
And Tanaka made the home side pay for its profligacy, rounding goalkeeper Koji Ezuma before firing home from an acute angle.
But Omiya’s response was swift, 19-year-old Shimizu picking up a loose ball at the near post from a corner and ramming it past Tokushige for the first goal of his fledgling career.
Yosuke Kataoka’s cross was then allowed to make it all the way over to the unmarked Watabe charging into the box on the left, and the 23-year-old fired the ball across Tokushige to put the home side in front.
The lead did not last long, however, as Tashiro found space in the Ardija box to head the visitors level and take a point back to Kobe.
“I thought the conditions would suit us, but that turned out not to be the case,” Nishino said of the 30-degree heat and extreme humidity. “But both teams fought through it and I was happy with my players’ effort.”
In the day’s other games, defending champions Kashiwa Reysol responded to a two-goal deficit against Shimizu S-Pulse by scoring four goals in the space of 22 minutes to win 5-3, while Sanfrecce Hiroshima took over first place with a 3-0 win over Kawasaki Frontale. Vegalta Sendai dropped to second on goals scored after drawing 0-0 with Nagoya Grampus.
An injury-time goal from Manabu Saito gave Yokohama F. Marinos a 2-1 win over Gamba Osaka, while Sagan Tosu also came through late to beat FC Tokyo 1-0.
Jubilo Iwata hammered another nail in the coffin of seemingly doomed Consadole Sapporo with a 4-1 victory, while Kashima Antlers beat Cerezo Osaka 1-0. In the day’s other game, Albirex Niigata and Urawa Reds drew 0-0.