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Matsuura provides the highs in a season of Jubilo lows

18 Dec 2008(Thu)

December 16, 2008: Hans Ooft described Jubilo's year as a "roller-coaster season" after they had held off Vegalta Sendai to keep their place in the top flight.

But I always thought there were highs and lows, ups and downs, when you rode the roller-coaster, whereas in Jubilo's case this season it has been downhill all the way..

Until it came to the playoff, that is.

Just in the nick of time, Jubilo found a new hero in 19-year-old Takuya Matsuura, who scored all three goals over the two legs for Jubilo to survive 3-2 on aggregate.

Considering he only made his J.League debut on July 17, Matsuura played with confidence and verve to lead the way for his more seasoned teammates.

After Jubilo had fallen behind in the first leg, away from home, Matsuura pulled them level with a terrific strike with his left foot from the edge of the box. The game finished 1-1, and Jubilo had an away goal in the bank.

At home, Matsuura settled Jubilo nerves four minutes before half time with an eye-catching opening goal, using his chest to guide Maeda's left-wing cross over the keeper and into the far corner. This was no fluke. It was a bright piece of improvisation by the bustling little midfielder, as the ball was played in at a height which left him with no other option.

Matsuura's second, after 70 minutes, highlighted his ambition, skill and his power of positive thinking, as he latched on to Komano's clearance, held off two defenders and chipped the ball beyond the keeper for 2-0. The following day, at Toyota Stadium, Adelaide United captain Travis Dodd set up an almost identical situation with a storming run through the Gamba defence, but couldn't finish off the move as he rolled the ball wide of the far post.

Thanks to Matsuura's cool finish, Jubilo were in control at 2-0 heading into the four minutes of injury time. But the J.League would not be the J.League without late drama, and Vegalta captain Ryang Yong Gi provided it with a sparkling free kick past Kawaguchi to set up a crazy finish. A second away goal and Vegalta would have gone up, and Jubilo down into J2.

But Jubilo hung on, and when the final whistle blew, Kawaguchi collapsed to the turf in relief and remained there for a couple of minutes. Jubilo were still in J1, thanks to Matsuura's highs in a season of lows.


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