Soccer / J. League

Frustrated Podolski tastes defeat in J. League for first time as Vissel falls to Kashiwa

by Andrew McKirdy

Staff Writer

Kashiwa Reysol brought an abrupt end to German World Cup-winner Lukas Podolski’s J. League honeymoon after coming from behind to beat Vissel Kobe 3-1 on Saturday.

Podolski, who joined Vissel from Turkish side Galatasaray last month and scored twice on his J. League debut against Omiya Ardija last week, looked set for another successful evening when Masatoshi Mihara gave Kobe the lead in the fifth minute.

But the 32-year-old former Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Inter Milan star was powerless to prevent Reysol from turning the tide as Diego Oliveira, Cristiano and Yuta Nakayama all scored in the second half, with Vissel reduced to 10 men when Hideo Tanaka was shown a straight red card for retaliation in the 67th minute.

“I need some games,” said Podolski, who spent most of the match hectoring the referee, berating his teammates and bickering with opponents.

“Everyone is in the middle of the season and I’m in preseason. I’ve been in training for two weeks. Last week we won, today we lost and on Wednesday we have the next game. This is sport. You cannot win all the games. You have to deal with this result, we have to make it better in the next games and we have to work on that.”

Reysol had already equalized through Diego Oliveira when Tanaka was shown a straight red card for kicking out at Kohei Tezuka, who had clattered into him from behind.

“The referee made some mistakes because he has to give a red card for them,” said Podolski. “He came from behind with the tackle and this was a clear red card. Our red card was clear as well but before he had to give a red card for them. I don’t always say something about the referee after the game but today when everyone watched the game it’s a clear red card.”

Reysol went into the game having dropped off the title pace with only one win in their previous five games, and manager Takahiro Shimotaira was happy to see his team move up to third in the table with the victory.

“We conceded early in the first half and we had to chase the game, but at halftime you could see that my boys were up for the fight and they looked tired,” he said. “I knew we still had a chance. We pulled a goal back and then went all the way to get the win. We have had a lot of games where we have scored first and then gone on to lose, but tonight we kept attacking even after taking the lead and it paid off.”

Podolski was incensed when referee Yoshiro Imamura refused to give him a foul after Shinnosuke Nakatani had upended him in the first minute, but the German did not have to wait long for something to celebrate.

Vissel took the lead when the ball came to Mihara on the edge of the box following a corner, and the midfielder drove a low shot through a crowd of players to beat goalkeeper Kosuke Nakamura at his far post.

Cristiano almost equalized for Reysol when he whipped a wicked free kick at Kim Seung-gyu’s goal in the 28th minute, but the home side stuck to the task and got its reward five minutes into the second half.

Cristiano found himself through one-on-one with Nakamura after a defense-splitting pass from Ryuta Koike, but the Brazilian unselfishly squared the ball for teammate Diego Oliveira to slot home.

Only a brilliant double save by Kim denied Reysol a second goal minutes later, but Vissel’s chances of regaining the upper hand were dealt a damaging blow when Tanaka was ordered from the field.

Reysol duly took advantage as Naoki Wako picked Mihara’s pocket on the edge of the box, setting up Cristiano to fire a vicious shot past Kim into the back of the net.

Nakayama then drove the final nail into Vissel’s coffin, receiving the ball from Junya Ito and lashing home a shot from virtually the same position as Cristiano had four minutes previously.

“Podolski is new to Japanese football and he just needs time to get used to it,” said Vissel manager Nelsinho. “You could see his quality whenever he got the ball and he did well creating space for his teammates with his movement. His level will improve and he will get better.”

Elsewhere in the J. League, Cerezo Osaka stayed top of the table after a 3-1 win over Consadole Sapporo, with Kashima Antlers still one point behind with a game in hand after beating Vegalta Sendai 2-0.

Omiya Ardija scored an 88th-minute equalizer to deny Urawa Reds’ new manager Takafumi Hori a winning start to his tenure in a 2-2 draw in the Saitama derby, while Ventforet Kofu striker Wilson scored in the 88th minute to end his team’s goal drought of 674 minutes — a J. League record — and claim a 1-0 win over Gamba Osaka.

Struggling Sanfrecce Hiroshima came from behind to beat Jubilo Iwata 3-2 — ending Jubilo’s run of six straight wins — Sagan Tosu beat Shimizu S-Pulse 2-1, and Shogo Taniguchi scored in the 89th minute to rescue a 1-1 draw for Kawasaki Frontale against FC Tokyo.

In the day’s other game, Yokohama F. Marinos beat Albirex Niigata 2-0.

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