05 August 2007

Mito 1 - 1 Sendai

Mito and Sendai just played one of the most exciting games I've seen in any sport. Against a team they have never beaten, and to whom they have only lost while at that home stadium, Mito showed poise and brilliance against a much stronger team to pull off a more than deserving tie game.

Mito took the lead after 21 minutes with a Shiozawa header off of a Kanazawa cross, and the Mito fans (outshouted by a home crowd 200 times their size) went crazy. Lopez countered for Sendai and after this, the cleanest war ever was fought, with both sides surging forward with exciting chances and great defense to counter with amazingly few fouls and no cards received by either side. Credit must be given to goalkeeper Honma who faced 17 shots and made some absolutely phenominal saves. I would be shocked if he didn't make J's Goal's Best 11 keeper for the second leg in a row.

The end of the game proved a wonderful climax. First, Biju, seeing the Sendai keeper playing far forward, sent a VERY long shot from near the Mito penalty area. It was only barely tapped away by the Sendai keeper in what was almost the game winner for Mito. Moments later, Mito's defense clamped down on Sendai who tried several shots from close range, only for Mito to crowd each player and create walls until the referee blew the final whistle.

The result is unprecedented for Mito, as the home crowd's booing showed. However, I defy anyone to find fault with the quality of the match and the excitement it brought, and I urge anyone with the ability to do so to catch a replay.

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