May 26, 2009: The "Tamagawa Clasico" lived up to its billing at Ajinomoto Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The occasion had everything, from the rousing rendition of "You'll never walk alone" by the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra to three points for Kawasaki Frontale and a furious FC Tokyo manager Hiroshi Jofuku.
"JFK" was livid with the match officials, and felt two key decisions had led to his team's 3-2 defeat.
The first was that Bruno Quadros's shirt-pull on Chong Tese had been committed outside the area, and therefore it should have been a free kick and not a penalty; the second was that the free kick which led to Frontale's equaliser at 2-2 should never had been awarded.
I can agree with "JFK" on the second point, as Kajiyama looked to have made a good tackle, but on the first?
Sorry, for me it was a clear penalty, as the momentum continued into the box and robbed Chong of a goal-scoring opportunity. It was the easiest red card referee Kenji Ogiya will ever have to hand out, but thankfully no one was disputing that side of the incident.
Outside or inside? It looked like both to me, so why should Tokyo escape with a free kick after such a blatant infringement?
What can be Bruno's defence? "Ref, I timed my shirt-pull to perfection, just outside the box! How can you award a penalty? We have been cheated!"
Doesn't sound like much of a defence to me.
The whole game changed in an instant with Juninho's successful spot kick. From being 2-0 up with 11 against 11, Tokyo now found themselves leading 2-1 but with 10 against 11.
Playing Frontale is difficult enough with 11 men; playing them with 10 when they are angry and hungry is virtually impossible, even with a 2-1 lead.
Then came the second incident, with Kajiyama penalised for what I thought was a decent tackle. As the Tokyo players decided to hold a committee meeting around the scene of the crime, Frontale took the free kick quickly and Taniguchi was able to lash the ball into the roof of the net; fantastic strike, 2-2.
The white shirts poured forward menacingly, and Renatinho showed his agility and anticipation by grabbing the winner at the far post. The inevitable had happened, and the happy memories of the ska orchestra, of Konno's astonishing opening goal -- does he receive an assist on that one, too, for heading the corner against the bar to create his own shooting opportunity? -- and of Ishikawa's thundering low drive on the run now seemed a long, long time ago for the home faithful.
And for Jofuku.