'V' for Victory & Vissel, with Poppo buzzing like a bee

Yes, Poppo is buzzing like a bee, but with a bit too much sting for the liking of the referee, in charge of Vissel Kobe against Montedio Yamagata.

At first glance, the referee, Mr Iida, Jumpei by name, jumpy by nature, seemed unduly influenced by the Montedio bench when he brandished a red card to Poppo for dangerous play. Unlike the challenge, the referee's reaction seemed over-the-top. In his defence, perhaps from Iida's angle, it looked worse.

After the game, Poppo complained that the Montedio bench had 'screamed' and this had led to the red card and subsequent suspension, unless it gets rescinded (but does that ever happen in Japan?). Poppo, himself, didn't think the challenge merited a yellow card and wasn't sure it was even a free kick. He said: 'I got the ball,' and it certainly looked that way.

Meanwhile, Vissel were the cleaner side on the day, with Montedio's tactics resembling 'dirty Leeds' of the 1970s. Going into the game, Montedio had already picked up a lot of cautions: Romero Frank the worst offender with 3 yellow cards already this season! In the event, the dangerous Peruvian didn't make much impact on the game. Montedio's most threatening player was their 28-year-old number 9, Yuki Nakashima, who looked dangerous on the break.

Vissel ended up cementing their position at the top of J2 with a long-range goal from Ryo Okui, who capped an impressive man-of-the-match performance with his unstoppable swerving drive.

With performances like that from the 23-year-old, Vissel's promotion chances shouldn't be too badly affected by the absence of a suspended Poppo from the starting line-up. But how long will it be before this Ryo joins Ryo Miyaichi in the Premier League. Any watching scouts, couldn't fail to impressed with Okui, but honourable mentions should go out to Vissel's 25-year-old Brazilian midfielder Mazinho and teenage centre back Takuya Iwanami also caught the eye with Vissel remaining top dogs in J2.

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