NAGOYA – Understrength Nagoya Grampus settled for a lukewarm 0-0 draw with Tianjin Teda of China in Group G of the Asian Champions League on Wednesday.
Grampus missed out on a perfectly good opportunity to collect three points, and manager Dragan Stojkovic was fuming after the game as his team surrendered first place on goal difference to Seongnam Ilhwa, who thrashed Central Coast Mariners 5-0 at home.
“No good. No good play, no good performance,” Stojkovic said. “0-0, I’m not satisfied. I’m really angry because my players, they don’t play seriously. They have to understand they have to give every game 100 percent.”
“We couldn’t trap, we miscontrolled, we couldn’t pass, this is really . . . I don’t want to use this word,” he said.
Nagoya won 3-0 when the two teams met in China two weeks ago, but Tianjin kept it much tighter on this night against a shorthanded Grampus team.
Grampus were without three from their first team at Mizuho Athletics Stadium, after beating Consadole Sapporo 3-1 at home in the J. League at the weekend.
Defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka was out with a sore calf while forward Josh Kennedy aggravated a lower back injury which the Australian international has been battling over the last couple of years.
Japan midfielder Jungo Fujimoto was suspended on yellow cards.
Still, it was Nagoya which produced the first legitimate chance of the match three minutes to the hour when substitute Yuki Maki won a penalty while challenging for a cross from Yosuke Ishibitsu.
Keiji Tamada stepped up to the spot and read goalkeeper Yang Qipeng well, but fired wide left, leaving Stojkovic utterly exasperated.
Tianjin, last in the group with two points from the first three games, were far from inspiring but seemed perfectly content to take a draw back home, which they succeeded in doing.
Frontale defeat leaders
Yu Kobayashi scored twice as 10-man Kawasaki Frontale picked up their first points since the dismissal of manager Naoki Soma with a 3-1 win over J. League leaders Vegalta Sendai in the Nabisco Cup on Wednesday night.
Rapid-fire goals in first-half stoppage time from Yusuke Tasaka and Kobayashi put Frontale in control at Todoroki Stadium before defender Yuki Saneto’s 54th-minute expulsion set the stage for a tight second period.
Frontale squandered a two-goal lead in a 3-2 defeat at Gamba Osaka in their first game under caretaker Tatsuya Mochizuki at the weekend, but Kobayashi ensured there would be no repeat collapse when he clipped home the third shortly before the hour. Yuki Muto scored a late consolation for Sendai.
The result moved Frontale onto four points from three games in Group A, five behind leaders Jubilo Iwata, who beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0, Hiroki Yamada’s late goal maintaining their 100 percent record in the group.
Sendai fielded a much-changed side to the one that beat Kashiwa Reysol 3-2 to cement their place at the top of the J. League at the weekend, and Muto had the ball in the net on 11 minutes, but was deemed to have fouled Frontale goalkeeper Yohei Nishibe in the process and the goal was ruled out.
Muto again went close with a swerving effort that was hacked away to safety by Shun Morishita, but after Takuro Yajima rattled the crossbar at the other end, the home side broke the deadlock two minutes into time added on to the end of the first period.
Yajima headed on Kobayashi’s deflected cross and Tasaka bundled in at the far post. Home fans had barely finished celebrating that goal when Kobayashi, looking well offside, collected Renato’s pass before calmly rounding Shigeru Sakurai to double the lead.
Saneto picked up a somewhat harsh second yellow card and was given his marching orders for bringing down Muto but Kobayashi, who was also on target Saturday, scored a crucial third, flicking in Yajima’s low cross with the outside of his boot.
Also in Group A, Hiroshi Kiyotake opened the scoring as Cerezo Osaka thrashed Urawa Reds 4-1 away to pick up their first win.
In Group B, former Frontale hitman Juninho and Hideya Okamoto scored as holders and leaders Kashima Antlers won 2-1 at Consadole Sapporo. Shimizu S-Pulse edged Yokohama F Marinos 1-0 courtesy of Alex Brosque’s 76th-minute goal, and Shoki Hirai’s effort saw Albirex Niigata beat Vissel Kobe by the same scoreline.
The top two in each seven-team group qualify for the quarterfinals, where they will be joined by the four Asian Champions League representatives—J. League champions Kashiwa Reysol, Emperor’s Cup holders FC Tokyo, Nagoya Grampus and Gamba Osaka.
The two-legged quarterfinals will be played on July 25 and Aug. 8, with the semis on Sept. 5 and Oct. 13. The final is scheduled for Nov. 3.