A sleepy afternoon at Omiya Park saw a sleepy performance from the Squirrels, in which they somehow contrived to lose their Nabisco Cup group match with an uninspired Oita Trinita side. Ardija appeared to be coasting to a straightforward victory thanks to Denis Marques' goal early in the second half, only for the Kyushu outfit to score twice in the final ten minutes and to all intents and purposes confirm the elimination of Yasuhiro Higuchi's team from this year's competition.
In marked contrast with their most recent game in the same tournament, a 4-0 drubbing at Yokohama F Marinos, Higuchi elected to field a more or less full-strength side, with Leandro returning to the centre of defence after his absence from the 3-2 defeat of Kawasaki Frontale last weekend. Kohei Tokita started alongside Denis Marques, Naoya Saeki held on to his place in midfield and Terukazu Tanaka returned to the starting line-up at right back.
Tanaka it was who had several opportunities early on to make his mark on the overlap, but on each occasion wasted the chance to get in a dangerous cross when several team-mates were well-placed. Indeed in a quiet opening period it was Omiya's failure to make good use of the full width of the pitch that prevented them from making headway against a Trinita team that offered little aside from the hustle and bustle of the bulky Edmilson in midfield.
The closest Ardija came to going ahead in the first half was from a tame Chikara Fujimoto header, while at the other end Koji Ezumi's goal went unthreatened. Although the Squirrels fans did their best to inject some urgency into the atmosphere, all in all it was a peaceful 45 minutes football.
Oita were caught napping shortly after the re-start as Denis found space for a clear run at goal and slotted past Shusaku Nishikawa from the edge of the area. The opening goal came as a prelude to a period of total domination, Saeki and Yoshiyuki Kobayashi winning everything in midfield and almost all possession being with the Squirrels.
There were glimpses of quality from the clearly unconfident Daigo Kobayashi, but the lack of real threat from the wings meant that very few chances were created despite Ardija seeing so much of the ball. The over-reliance on Denis Marques to provide a spark of creativity or unpredictability made Omiya something of a one-dimensional side and as the second half progressed the feeling grew that the men in orange would live to regret their failure to get a second goal when they had been so much on top.
Sure enough, veteran forward Ueslei bundled in an equalizer from close range and having been pegged back Ardija were unable to find a higher gear in order to claim the win that they deserved. Central defender Taikai Uemoto completed Trinita's comeback with a header in the dying seconds and Omiya's almost certain elimination from the tournament was confirmed with barely a whimper.