Football: Lineker is eclipsed by Zico: Barclays League promotion play-offs, semi-finals

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Kashima Antlers. . .5

Nagoya Grampus. . .80

JAPAN'S professional league kicked off over the weekend with Gary Lineker involved in a five-goal thriller yesterday. Unfortunately, his team, Nagoya Grampus 8, were on the receiving end of a five-goal blast by Kashima Antlers, for whom Zico scored a hat-trick.

Zico's performance matched the historic occasion at Kashima's new pounds 48m stadium. In the 25th minute, he slammed in a right-foot shot from the edge of the penalty area after the ball ran free from two Grampus defenders.

Five minutes later, from a free-kick on the left of the area, he slanted the ball with pin-point accuracy over the wall and in off the right-hand post.

In the 63rd minute, he ran on to a centre from his Brazilian compatriot, Sartori Alcindo, and scored with his left foot from six yards. He could have had four, but for a brilliant save in the 86th minute by the Grampus keeper, Yuji Itoh.

The other two goals were scored by Alcindo, in the 53rd and 64th minutes, the first after a fine run into the penalty area and the second a well-placed lob from 25 yards.

He, too, could have had a hat-trick when, in the 84th minute, he had only the goalkeeper to beat but was too casual and Itoh snatched the ball away.

If it was Brazilian delight at one end, it was English misery at the other. Lineker had no clear-cut chances and his frustration began to show even through his normal good temper. 'I am a striker, I need the ball to be played to me,' he said.

On Saturday, for the league's first match, 60,000 boisterous spectators crammed into Tokyo's National Stadium and millions watched on television.