Ardija players acknowledge the travelling members of the Squirrel Nation
After last week's tremendous start to the season, Yasuhiro Higuchi's Squirrels team put in a hugely disappointing performance at promoted side Kyoto Sanga in their Sunday lunchtime encounter. Fielding the exact same team as beat Albirex Niigata so comfortably, Omiya started well and were the better side in the first half - but after the interval looked totally disinterested and were in the end deservedly beaten.
Ardija took the lead through an excellent piece of work from Chikara Fujimoto, who gained possession about forty yards out before running through the middle and laying off a perfect pass for 2007 top scorer Kota Yoshihara to open his account for this year with a simple side foot into an empty net. Daigo Kobayashi subsequently had an excellent free kick tipped over by Naohito Hirai and the Squirrels finished the opening period in the ascendency.
It all went wrong within a minute of the restart. Kyoto attacked down the left and a cross was whipped into the goal area. There followed something of a melee in which the Ardija defence completely failed to clear the ball and in the end Terukazu Tanaka's poor clearance fell to Atsushi Yanagisawa to strike a close-range equaliser into Koji Ezumi's bottom left-hand corner.
Yoshihara's hitting the post with a rasping shot after an impressive pass from Daigo was the highlight of the second half from an Ardija perspective - but in general Higuchi's side looked lightweight up front and lacking in invention, especially after Fujimoto was taken off injured on the hour mark. The coup de grace arrived in the 80th minute via an unstoppable 25-yard blast from Sanga defender Daigo Watanabe, although in truth it was easy to see the winner coming.
Daigo Watanabe after his wondergoal winner
Keeper Ezumi was blameless for both goals and made some excellent saves, particularly from two long-range Sidiclei efforts in the first half. Overall, then, this was a disappointing result and performance against a hard-working but ultimately limited Kyoto team.