Please note that the Japanese names in these posts are written in Japanese order, i.e. Family Name followed by Given Name

Sunday, 27 December 2015

The 37th Empress' Cup Final Match

Final Match, played on December 27th:

Match 47:
Albirex Niigata Ladies  0 - 1  INAC Kobe Leonessa
(Attendance: 20,379)

INAC Kobe Leonessa won their fifth cup title, and third against Niigata, with the winning goal coming from Sawa Homare in her final appearance. Niigata started the game well, hassling the INAC players and preventing them from building attacks, but as the first half wore on the Kobe asserted themselves and began to open the Niigata defence more readily. Niigata's best chance came from Kojima Miku, who leapt high to head at goal but only found the waiting arms of Kaihori Ayumi. Just before the half-time whistle Nakajima Emi had the best chance for either side, with Fukumura Kanae diving well to save, assisted by Nakamura Kaede sliding in to prevent a follow-up.

Neither side created many open chances in the opening stages of the second half, and it appeared more likely as the game wore on that a set piece would be the key to winning the game. Niigata relied largely on a supply of crosses from both open play and set pieces from Kamionobe Megumi but they made little of the half-chances they created. Kobe still looked dangerous when they attacked at pace, with Sayama Momoko making a last-ditch tackle on Ohno to deny her. This however, only led to a corner kick for Kobe, on which count they outscored Niigata by eight to one over the course of the game, and it was to be their undoing. From Kawasumi's corner Sawa, who was unmarked despite her prominence at prior corner kicks, headed powerfully into the corner of the net for her first Cup Final goal for Kobe. Niigata pushed for an equaliser but were kept well at bay and Kaihori's net was rarely threatened. Kobe held on to win their first trophy since 2013 and for Niigata, there can only be hope of better in the future.

Albirex Niigata Ladies:
Fukumura Kanae, Kitahara Kana, Sayama Momoko, Nakamura Kaede, Kojima Miku, Kamionobe Megumi (capt), Sakaguchi Moeno, Yamada Shoko, Saeki Aya, Oishi Sayaka, Yamazaki Marumi
Subs: Watanabe Ayaka (Yamazaki Marumi, 72 mins), Kawasaki Saya (Saeki Aya, 79 mins)
Unused subs: Koganemaru Sachie, Yamamoto Arina, Saito Yuri

INAC Kobe Leonessa:
Kaihori Ayumi, Kinga Yukari, Sameshima Aya, Tanaka Asuna, Kai Junko, Nakajima Emi, Sawa Homare, Ito Miki, Kawasumi Nahomi, Ohno Shinobu (capt), Takase Megumi
Subs: Masuya Rika (Takase Megumi, 69 mins)
Unused subs: Shibusawa Anna, Miyake Shiori, Ito Kanako, Kyokawa Mai
Scorers: Sawa Homare (78 mins)

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