Nippon started the match with their usual 4-5-1. The new non-Japanese member, Ashwin, was deployed in the midfield, and the team took on Hibs, the team in the second place. From the last season, Nippon knew that this will never be an easy game, so the management thought through all kinds of situations and discussed the tactics a lot. In the beginning, Nippon's high pressure gave Hibs no room to stably hold the ball, and Hibs started off with a fast, long-ball attack to create chances. 5 minutes in the first half, with some luck, Kike picked up the opponent's clearance error, dribbled into the penalty area, and easily won a one-on-one with the goalkeeper to score the opening goal. 1-0 5 minutes later, Kike's corner kick on the right side led to a free header by the previous season's top scorer, Hagi, who fired the ball into the net, but the goalkeeper made a great save. However, Marcos, the Spanish lightning star, who is a newcomer to the team this season, pushed in the spilled ball and added a goal. 2-0 Then, the two teams went into the water break with neither team creating any decisive chances. The rhythm did not change much after the water break, as Nippon's strong pressure continued and only allowed simple attacks by the Hibs. Also, Nippon's defense line controlled the line well, and there were offsides on many occasions. Nippon tried to cut through the Hibs defense with short passes from their defensive line, but were also unable to get a shot on target. In the 35th minute of the first half, Hibs created a chance and beamed a shot from deep inside the penalty area, but it lacked power, and the goalkeeper Joko was able to deny it with his left foot. Soon after, Kike dribbled into the penalty area and tried a loop shot, but it failed to capture the goal. In the 43rd minute, a back-pass was almost snatched away by a Hibs forward, but the team was saved by a foul whistle. In the 44th minute, Mokchan, who is known for his iron body, got injured after being charged for heading a long ball and another Spanish player Jaume came in. In the second half, Shungo also comes in on the right, bringing a new breeze to the attacking lineup. Shungo's quick dribbling and shooting creates chances in the early second half. The start of the second half was more or less the same as the first, both sides pressing each other, but in the fourth minute of the first half, Marcos met Jaume's corner kick with his foot at the near post to score the third goal. 3-0. Despite the 3 goals gap, Hibs did not let up and fought back and reacted very well, but Nippon's defense was so focused and did not allow them to create much decisive opportunities. 11 minutes into the second half, Jaume again created a score from a CK, this time with a beautifully curled cross from the left that met Hagi's head perfectly in front of the goal with a neat header. 4-0 In the 18th minute, Hagi slipped out of an excellent through ball from Jo and shot past two defenders, but the goalkeeper made a save. He floated the ball over the goalkeeper's head to bury it, but was cleared by a returning defender. In the 20th minute,, Hibs finally began to tire, leaving more space in the midfield, and again Hagi had a great chance and scored a middle shot. However, unfortunately, it was offside. In the 30th minute,, a quick restart free kick by Hibs on the left side was met by a free player, allowing a decisive shot, but goalkeeper Joko made a great save to save the Japanese team. In the 33rd minute, Kike entered the penalty area after a CK. Kike was fouled by the opponent, resulting in a penalty kick. Jaume calmly slotted the ball into the net to decide the match. 5-0 At this point, Kike was replaced by Abe, Adachi by Tanaka, and Nippon went into a closing mode. In the 40th minute, Hagi again succeeded in getting the ball behind the defense line and went one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but was denied by the goalkeeper's left hand and failed to score. Shungo pushes the ball into the net, but unfortunately, it was another offside. In the 41st minute, a red card was given to a Hibs player who appealed against an offside decision, and the Hibs were down to 10 men. Nippon continued to attack and in the 44th minute, Jaume's long shot out of the penalty area hit the post after some neat passing. Nippon kept their concentration to the end and held off their opponents' counterattacks for a perfect 5-0 victory. Well done to the team and thank you Hibs for another tough and exciting game. MoM: Marcos who made tireless efforts throughout the game with 2 goals scored
Hibs were made to pay for their poor defending in a difficult evening at Turf City. Playing into Nippon's hands, Hibs gave the ball to Kike on the edge of the area and he dropped the shoulder and went right and threaded it through Bill's legs. Nippon got a second following terrible defending from a corner and unfortunately that pattern continued. It was difficult to imagine Nippon getting three goals from corners, but it was that kind of night and they they took full advantage. Goal five was a penalty after a rash challenge on Kike by Julio and Bill and Lam saved further damage. It got worse. Max picked up a second yellow for not much really as he argued his pass to Bolts was square for a consolation goal. The referee forgot he had booked him early in the game. MoM was Liam who was very composed and one of the only players who had a good game. Knotty was also solid at full-back.