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Diego delivers after dressing down from assistant ref

22 Oct 2009(Thu)

October 21, 2009: The JEF United-Kyoto Sanga match had everything at Fukuda Denshi Arena on Sunday afternoon, except for a winner.

It was a cracking game, played at a fast pace and in a fantastic atmosphere, and there were several sub-plots to the main storyline during the 1-1 draw.

For a long time it looked like JEF were going to win only their second home game of the season, only for a familiar twist in the tale with a late equaliser for the visitors.

This time it was the burly attacking midfielder Diego who did the damage with his lethal left foot, blasting past Okamoto with just four minutes remaining. Diego was fired up all right, as he had been involved in a running battle during the second half – not with an opponent but with the linesman!

The official took exception to Diego's appearance, with his shirt hanging out of his shorts. So every time Diego went to take a corner on the right, the assistant referee would insist he tuck his shirt in before striking the ball.

It may be regarded as a silly rule – even by some match officials themselves – but nevertheless it is a rule, and Diego was not going to take anything until he was properly attired. At one point the linesman stood in the corner and would not even allow Diego to place the ball, prompting the frustrated player to spin around for a full inspection.

As soon as he took the kick, however, his shirt would flap out of his shorts again anyway, so we had to go through this comedy routine on a regular basis as the visitors piled on the pressure in the closing stages.

The “villain” of the piece on Sunday was the former JEF defender Mizumoto, who found his way to Kyoto via Gamba Osaka. Mizumoto was jeered relentlessly by the yellow masses but had the last laugh with a superb challenge in injury time to snuff out home hopes of a late winner.

Tackles were flying in all game, with JEF midfielder Alex setting the tone, and full credit to the referee for allowing play to continue with so much physical contact.

For JEF it was another two points lost, despite a fine performance by Kudo out on the right side of midfield. His attacking instincts and pace are much more suited to this Hanyu-style role, without the defensive responsibility of playing in the centre of midfield. Chugo and Shimomura is a more solid combination in the midfield engine room, but time is running out for JEF to find the right formula.

ends

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