HANNOVER, Germany – Japan striker Naohiro Takahara played the full 90 minutes and had a hand in the equalizer on his Bundesliga debut as Hamburg SV came from two goals down to draw 2-2 away at lowly Hannover 96 on Saturday.
Chances were at a premium for both sides in the opening stages but Takahara made his presence felt and had his first effort on goal charged down by the Hannover defense in the 20th minute.
But it was the home side that took the lead five minutes before the interval when Fredi Bobic drove the ball home from 14 meters after his initial shot had been saved by HSV goalkeeper Martin Pieckenhagen.
Hannover went further in front in the 50th minute as Bobic took advantage of some sloppy defending to set up Mohammadou Idrissou for the second but HSV refused to roll over and Tomas Ujfalusi pulled one back with a header from Mehdi Mahdavikia’s free-kick in the 63rd minute.
Takahara rarely threatened the Hannover goal but played a part in HSV’s equalizer, exchanging passes with Mahdavikia before the latter put substitute Erik Meijer through to grab the equalizer 12 minutes from time.
Takahara, who joined HSV from J. League champion Jubilo Iwata on a 2 1/2-year contract after impressing in a trial last month, said he was disappointed with his performance but received words of encouragement from HSV technical director Dietmar Beiersdorf.
“I couldn’t really play the way I wanted to today,” said the 23-year-old. “I should have timed my runs better to gain possession of the ball.
“But the team worked hard to come from two down and snatch a draw so I’m satisfied with the result,” added the former Boca Juniors marksman, who is the third Japanese player to appear in the Germany’s top flight after Yasuhiko Okudera and Kazuo Ozaki.
“Takahara wasn’t getting the right service from the middle of the park so it was always going to be difficult for him,” Beiersdorf said. “But he showed us many times today that he is a talented player.”
Kitazawa calls it quits
Former Japan midfielder Tsuyoshi Kitazawa has decided to end his playing career, sources at his club side Tokyo Verdy said Sunday.
The 34-year-old made his J. League debut for Verdy, then known as Verdy Kawasaki, in 1993 and has notched up 265 league appearances and scored 41 goals for the club.
Kitazawa played a key role alongside Ruy Ramos and Kazuyoshi Miura in the team that won back-to-back J. League Championships in 1993 and 1994 and earned 59 caps for his country.
‘A dream come true’
LONDON (Kyodo) Japan midfielder Kazuyuki Toda has described his move to Tottenham Hotspur as a “dream come true” after signing for the English Premier League club on a one-year loan deal from J. League side Shimizu S. Pulse.
“It feels really great to be here. It has always been my dream to play in the Premiership, now this dream has come true,” the 25-year-old hard man told the club’s official Web site on Saturday.
“I have watched quite a lot of English football on TV and a lot of Tottenham games, so I already have the impression of this team playing very fast football with some great players.”
According to the Web site, Toda has completed his medical and there are now “just a few formalities to tie up” on Monday before he officially becomes a Spurs player.
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