J.League Division 1: Matchday Three Round-up

Shu Karata (14) and teammates return to the halfway line after Kurata had pulled a goal back for Gamba Osaka. It would not prove enough as Gamba were defeated for the fifth time in a row, losing 2-1 to Jubilo Iwata at the Osaka Expo '70 Stadium (Image courtesy J's Goal/J.League Photos)

The pressure further increased on beleagured boss Jose Carlos Serrao, as his Gamba Osaka side suffered its fifth consecutive loss on Sunday and are yet to win a single point in any competition. Jubilo Iwata extended their unbeaten start to the season with a 2-1 victory, Kosuke Yamamoto and Ryoichi Maeda scored the goals for the visitors at the Osaka Expo ’70 Stadium, with a Shu Karata header for on the 84th minute not enough to prevent Gamba from slumping to another defeat.

Kashima Antlers sit at the foot of the table on goal difference, outplayed by Sanfrecce at the Hiroshima Big Arch and yet to score a goal in the J.League this year. Full-back Ryota Morikawi’s attempted overhead kick fell kindly to Hisato Sato to give Sanfre the lead on 25 minutes, and the Antlers’ task was made considerably more difficult when Toru Araiba was shown a straight red card for bringing down Junya Osaki and denying the forward an obvious goalscoring opportunity. Osaki scored the second and final goal of the game in the 71st minute.

At the other end of the table, Vegalta Sendai conceded their first J.League Division 1 goal of 2012, but scored four against Omiya Ardija at the Yurtec Stadium to maintain their 100% record. Vegalta supporters were silenced when Ardija surprisingly opened the scoring, Cho Young-Cheol turning in an 8th minute corner, a lead which the Saitama Prefecture side held until half-time. Nine minutes after the restart Vegalta equalised, Makoto Kakuda hoisting a ball to the edge of the penalty, and which was headed into the path of an unmarked Yoshiaka Ota, who calmly controlled the ball on his chest before driving his shot past Takashi Kitano. Just six minutes later Vegalta took the lead which they were never to relinquish, but it was a goal which owed much to good fortune. Ota, deep into Ardija territory, delivered a low cross from the right wing which was met first time by Atsushi Yanagasawa. His right-footed shot from six yards was well-saved by goalkeeper Kitano, but he merely succeeded in pushing the ball against the unwitting defender Kosuke Kikuchi, which rebounded into the net. With 17 minutes remaining, a corner was powerfully headed by Kakuda, excellently saved by Kitano diving low to his right, but Naoki Sugai was quickest to react to the loose ball and he smashed home right-footed from four yards. Victory was complete when a jinking run from substitute Takayuki Nakahara saw him glide past right-back Yuki Fukaya, and his cross pulled back across the penalty area was met by Ota, who netted his second of the match.

Kawasaki Frontale also failed to record a third consecutive clean sheet in the league, but suffered a reversal of their two 1-0 league wins by losing to the odd goal to Cerezo Osaka. 22 year-old midfielder Bo-Kyung Kim scored the winner in the 75th minute, the South Korean international finishing a move which featured young Samurai Blue Hiroshi Kiyotake and Yoichiro Kakitani with precision. Manager Sergio Soares was delighted with the performance of his team, but tempered expectations, saying:

We now have 7 points but we have to keep our feet firmly on the ground. The J. League season is extremely long and really very hard. I know this is a difficult league.

The 100% record of at least one team had to end at the Home’s Stadium, and it was FC Tokyo who took all three points to continue their excellent start to the campaign and leave Vissel empty-handed. Despite Vissel dominating much of the possession and territory, the Gas were happy to play on the counter-attack and soak up the pressure from the home side, an effective strategy with Vissel only managing eight shots in the 90 minutes. Naohiro Ishikawa scored his third goal in as many matches, steering home a wonderful half-volley at the far post following a cross from Lucas. Despite Aria Hasegawa receiving a second yellow card with four minutes of the ninety remaining, FC Tokyo held on and deep into stoppage time a Shuichi Gonda clearance fell to Kazuma Watanabe, who ran in on goal and slotted past Kenta Tokushige.

Sagan Tosu followed up their historic victory in the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup with their first ever J.League Division 1 triumph. Yokohama F-Marinos were downed 1-0, formner Marino’s forward Kota Mizunuma scoring with a shot which edged in off the crossbar. Sagan now have four points from three matches, a tally certain to delight manager Jung-Hwan Yoon, the former midfielder and South Korean international who has been on the coaching staff at the Saga Prefecture club since retiring as a player at the end of the 2007 season.

Joshua Kennedy and Mu Kanazaki, who both found the net in Nagoya Grampus’ 2-2 2012 AFC Champions League draw with Central Coast Mariners on 21 March, scored again as Grampus eased to a 2-1 victory over Albirex Niigata. Kanazaki’s 49th minute strike put the home side up at the Nagoya Mizuho Athletics Stadium, with Kennedy, last season’s J.League top scorer, making matters safe with 16 minutes to spare. Bruno Lopes pulled one back for Albirex, but it came too late to affect the result and they find themselves in the company of Gamba Osaka and Kashima Antlers on zero points.

Urawa Red Diamonds’ third consecutive victory in all competitions came at the expense of Consadole Sapporo at the Sapporo Dome. Consadole led after 32 minutes, Masaki Yamomoto scoring from the edge of the penalty area, before Yosuke Kashiwagi scored twice for the Reds, his first coming in added time at the end of the first period, then expertly curling a free-kick beyond the wall and goalkeeper Ho Seung Lee.

Kashiwa Reysol fought back against Shimizu S-Pulse to record their first league win of 2012 at the Hitachi Kashiwa Soccer Stadium, and you can find the match report

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