The weekend highlight for Japanese players in Europe was clearly Dortmund's goal-filled affair with Stuttgart, which featured two of the country's most-anticipated young playersIn Germany‚ Bundesliga matchday started in Dortmund with the reigning champions hosting Stuttgart for the Friday night game. In what turned out to become one of the most memorable matches of the season‚ Shinji Kagawa had his first say in the second minute when he shot wide from outside the box.
After being denied an effort in the fifth minute‚ it was the 23-year-old's third attempt which finally found the net after the half hour when he smashed home a nice ball headed to him by skipper Sebastian Kehl. The goal not only marked the attacker's fourth strike in three matches but also his 12th league goal this season - a feat accomplished for the first time by a Japanese player in Europe.
Dortmund went on to double their lead after the break but the visitors staged an amazing comeback hitting three goals before Kagawa was subbed off in the 81st minute. The Swabians, for whom Gotoku Sakai started, fell behind again before grabbing the equaliser deep into injury time‚ ending the game a spectacular 4-4 draw.
The Japanese-German youngster, who played another full match as Stuttgart's right full-back, once again proved his worth as he emerged the player with the most ball touches of either team‚ showed some spirited moves forward‚ and last but not least‚ contributed with his long feed‚ eventually leading to his side's third in the 79th minute.
|STAR OF THE WEEKEND
After opening the scoring in the 4-4 cracker‚ the attacker is now officially the Japanese with the most league goals in a European top league.
In Italy‚ Takayuki Morimoto scored his fourth goal of the season in Novara's 5-2 loss to Roma. After coming off the bench at the hour mark‚ he found himself unmarked on the left side of the goal just two minutes later. After taking Andrea Caracciolo's through pass‚ Morimoto calmly handled the one-on-one with the goalkeeper and settled the goal with his right foot. It was the 23-year-old's first goal since January 15.
Yuto Nagatomo (Inter): Watched the 5-4 home win over Genoa from the bench. Nagatomo was unable to join the match after new manager Andrea Stramaccioni was forced to use his last substitute on a goalkeeper following Julio Cesar's red card. It was Nagatomo's first non-appearance in 20 matches.
Shinji Okazaki (Stuttgart): Was not selected in Stuttgart's 4-4 draw away to Borussia Dortmund. Despite returning to team training during the week‚ the match against the champions came too early for the 25-year-old.
Hajime Hosogai (Augsburg): Made a full appearance in the 2-1 home win over Koln. The former Urawa Reds man had a quiet afternoon as the visiting side didn't pose much of a threat in attack‚ but was solid when he was called for.
Takashi Usami (Bayern Munich): Left off the roster in his team's 1-0 win at Nurnberg.
Makoto Hasebe (Wolfsburg): Watched the Wolves' 4-1 away win over Hertha Berlin from the bench. After starting three straight wins as right back‚ the Wolves boss chose to replace the Samurai Blue skipper with Christian Trasch.
Atsuto Uchida (Schalke): Started in the 1-1 draw away to Hoffenheim, but was substituted off in the 55th minute. The 24-year old didn't stand out in an average display for his side as he lacked enthusiasm running forward while looking sluggish in defence.
Yuki Otsu (Borussia Monchengladbach): Found himself out of the squad for the 2-1 loss away to Hannover.
Takashi Inui (Bochum): Made a full appearance in the 3-0 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt. The former Cerezo man had a couple of attempts the best of which was a shot against the post in the 36th minute. The Ruhr valley club are on a terrible run of six winless games.
Ryo Miyaichi (Bolton): Started in Bolton's 3-2 home win against Wolverhampton, but was substituted in the 78th minute. Sent out several good crosses‚ but was not involved in any goals and returned to the bench with the game still deadlocked at 1-1.
Lee Tadanari (Southampton): Was not called up as Southampton was beaten 3-0 away to Blackpool. The team announced over the weekend that Lee will have surgery on his right foot and will be out for four to six months.
Maya Yoshida (VVV Venlo): Made a full appearance as his club was beaten 2-0 away to PSV.
Cullen Robert (VVV Venlo): Entered from the bench in the 61st minute in the 2-0 loss at PSV.
Michihiro Yasuda (Vitesse): Warmed the bench during his team's 2-2 draw against AZ.
Mike Havenaar (Vitesse): Was an unused substitute in his club's 2-2 home draw against AZ.
Yoshiaki Takagi (Utrecht): Played a full 90 minutes as Utrecht defeated Excelsior 3-2 at home.
Daisuke Matsui (Dijon): Found himself outside the match day squad in his team's 1-1 draw at Bordeaux.
Eiji Kawashima (Lierse): Made a full appearance in the 1-1 draw at OH Leuven. Allowed a disappointing end-stage goal to deprive Lierse of a win to open the first round of the Pro League play-offs.
Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow): Found himself outside of the squad in the 1-1 draw at Kuban Krasnodar. Honda went to Germany last week in order to have his right thigh examined after sustaining a knock that has kept him off the pitch.
Takayuki Seto (Astra Ploiesti): Full appearance for his team's scoreless draw away to Gaz Metan Medias. After former Romania international Mircea Rednic took over the managerial post at Astra during the week‚ the side claimed for a valuable away point‚ ending a streak of three straight defeats.