Yasuhiro Higuchi's inconsistent Ardija team were stretches of the game at Vissel Kobe on Saturday evening and it has to be said on the balance of play the Squirrels deserved to lose. An Ardija side from which Daigo Kobayashi was dropped from the starting line-up - skipper Yoshiyuki Kobayashi also took his place on the subs' bench - lacked incision, Kota Yoshihara was caught offside more often than not and with Denis Marques shackled by a resolute Kobe defence, Omiya were always going to be up against it.
Naturally and entirely predictably it was ex-Squirrel Leandro who landed the killer blow, but what a finish it was. He picked up the ball at least 25 yards out from goal and lashed a vicious, perfectly-placed curling shot into Koji Ezumi's top left corner, leaving Ardija's custodian with absolutely no chance at all. 1-0 down after only nine minutes, Omiya didn't have a worthy opportunity to speak of in the first half, the main action from an Ardija standpoint being Chikara Fujimoto receiving an elbow to the face and subsequently a yellow card for his trouble.
The second period was a little better, although Ezumi was the busier of the two keepers and made some great saves. The best came in the final minute when saving with his legs, although his tip over from Yoshito Okubo mid-way through the half was also impressive. Denis had Ardija's best chance and should have really scored, but his free header from Terukazu Tanaka's cross went wide.
Central defender Leandro could have equalised his namesake's goal too, but for the intervention of a Kobe defender when he was about to slide in a cross. Vissel edged it although left a sour taste in the mouth with their time-wasting towards the end of the game. Higuchi has a home game with the almost equally unpredictable Jubilo Iwata next week to get Omiya's 2008 campaign back on track and with new signing Klemen Lavric potentially standing by for his debut in orange, it's a match which is taking on some significance.