At a crowded National Stadium in Tokyo on Tuesday, Paris Saint-Germain defeated Kawasaki Frontale 2-1 thanks to goals from Lionel Messi and Arnaud Kalimuendo. The French national champions did this despite the reigning J. League champions putting up a great defensive effort.
PSG landed in the capital with an all-star roster that included Messi, Neymar, and France’s 2018 World Cup MVP Kylian Mbappe. PSG is making its first trip to Japan as part of a three-stop tour that will also see them play Urawa Reds and Gamba Osaka.
However, they were halted by Frontale, who played skillfully and bravely despite missing several key players to national team duty for the upcoming EAFF E-1 Championships. Frontale utilised a compact defence rarely seen by their J. League opponents.
The game was “extremely rhythmic and lively,” according to Christophe Galtier, the new PSG boss. In many ways, our opponents were well-prepared despite the fact that they are still in the middle of the season.
Brazilian forward Marcinho was responsible for most of Frontale’s chances on the left side of the field. In the 17th minute, during a difficult one-on-one against PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, Marcinho missed his team’s best opportunity of the first half.
Then the opponent launched a counterattack, and Frontale goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong made one of many outstanding stops in the first half to stop Mbappe.
After 30 minutes of scoreless play, midfielder Chanathip, nicknamed in Asia as the “Thai Messi” for his small height and strong technique, cleared off the line Messi’s own effort. Messi is no stranger to Japanese spectators thanks to his FIFA Club World Cup appearances with Barcelona in 2011 and 2015.
The Frontale defender Kyohei Noborizato’s right foot blocked the Argentine’s low shot, which went inside Jung’s right post, but the player would not be deterred. He scored the game’s first goal shortly after the restart.
Toru Oniki’s team held strong against the Parisians even after Kalimuendo, who is reportedly being pursued by the English Premier League’s Leeds United, slid home from close range to double PSG’s lead, would have been happy to go into the halftime locker room down a goal against one of the wealthiest clubs in the world.
Kazuya Yamamura, a former Japan international, headed in Tatsuki Seto’s cross to reduce the deficit in the 84th minute, setting up an exciting finish to the game despite the fact that both teams’ key players had long ago taken their places on the bench.
The stadium, which was renovated to hold the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but has seldom seen capacity audiences since its completion due to the coronavirus outbreak, set a new attendance record with the announced attendance of 64,922.
Oniki expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to perform in front of such a large audience. “The result is sad, but despite the deficit, the players performed well.
Although there were numerous ways we could have pushed ourselves further, I believe we saw a lot of promise in what we accomplished during the past few days.
PSG will continue its tour on Saturday at Saitama Stadium against Urawa before wrapping it off on Monday at Panasonic Stadium Suita against Gamba.
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