(Extended highlights of the J.League Division 1 fixture between Kashiwa Reysol and Sagan Tosu. The top-flight first timers matched the reigning champions in a very even contest, earning a 1-1 draw and ending Matchday Eight in fifth place in the table)
Nagoya Grampus spurned the opportunity to move into second place and instead found themselves being leapfrogged by opponents Urawa Red Diamonds, as a Marcio Richardes brace allowed the visitors to collect all three points at the Mizuho Athletics Stadium. Tulio Tanaka nearly opened the scoring for the hosts in the opening minutes of the match, Jungo Fujimoto lofting the ball into the penalty area from the right flank, and with Tomoaki Makino deceived by its flight, Tulio was able to control on his chest before flicking a volley across the angle which Nobuhiro Kato stopped smartly to his left.
Instead it would be the Reds who would take the lead midway through the first half, Tsukasa Umesaki collecting the ball on the Grampus goal line, before turning and feeding Richardes on the edge of the penalty area. The 30-year old Brazilian controlled, and with Yuki Abe’s slip allowing him to bring the ball inside, he whipped a curling shot beyond the dive of Seigo Narazaki into the bottom right hand corner.
It was an advantage that would only last for four minutes, a high ball to the edge of the Urawa penalty area flicked on first by Tulio and then Keiji Tamada. Mu Kanazaki’s had be untracked and unimpeded into the 18-yard box, and the Mie native kept his composure to lift a finish over the advancing Kato. Parity was maintained until the 68th minute, when Hayuma Tanaka inexplicably raised a hand to block a cross inside the penalty area, the defender receiving his second yellow card of the match for the infringement and reducing his side to ten men. Richardes calmly dispatched the spot kick to Narazaki’s right, and despite some late pressure from the home side, which saw Tulio hitting the woodwork with a header from a Fujimoto cross, the Reds would hold on for the win which moved them into third place in the table.
Shimizu S-Pulse were on the receiving end of two red cards from referee Yuichi Nishimura, Jymmy Franca and Alex Brosque leaving the field of play in the second period for two bookable offences, but the deficit in numbers did not negatively impact on S-Pa’s performance as they came away with a 1-0 victory at the Ajinomoto Stadium over FC Tokyo, Toshiyuki Takagi’s excellent 77th minute strike the difference between the two sides.
The best of the chances in an enthralling first-half fell to Aria Hasegawa, after Akihiro Hayashi had punched a corner to outside the penalty area. Tatsuya Yazawa’s attempted drive spun to the edge of the six-yard box after being charged down by Sho Ito, and Hasegawa’s toe poke was cleared off the line by the superbly positioned Yutaka Yoshida. Yuhei Tokunaga’s pass to Masato Morishige then provided Franca an opening, the centre-back coming under pressure from Alex and he could only clip his attempted ball to Shuichi Gonda into Franca’s path. The forward drifted in from the left channel to inside the penalty area, but he could only fire his shot straight at Shuichi Gonda having been clean through on goal.
After the interval a teasing Genki Omae cross to the back post came close to putting S-Pa in front, headed back across goal by Keisuke Iwashita and very nearly deflected into his own net by Hideto Takahashi through his attempted clearance, the ball landing in the very grateful arms of Gonda.
The second of Franca’s yellow cards would arrive with over half an hour still to play. Leading with a forearm in challenging for a header with Morishige, the arm landed in the defender’s face, and deeming the Brazilian’s play reckless, Nishimura correctly had no hesitation in issuing a booking and ending Franca’s participation in this match.
The ejection had little bearing on S-Pa’s ability to create chances, Genki Omae bending a wicked ball across the six yard area, which Gonda did very well to punch clear with Sho Ito in a good position to head home from close range. For FC Tokyo, Naoki Ishikawa was leaning back when he saw a half-volley sail over Hayashi’s crossbar, and seventeen minutes were still on the clock when Alex would foolishly fail to retreat from a free-kick and give the Gas a two man advantage. However, the lack of playing staff would be of no concern, as Kosuke Ota’s mis-placed pass was latched on to by subsitute Naohiro Takahara, and driving down the right wing from inside his own half, his crossfield pass to Takagi was met with a sublime finish, cracking a right-footed shot into the top right corner which Gonda could only watch as it flew by him. The 77th minute goal was followed by some stout defending from S-Pulse as the Gas sought a way back into the contest, but the visitors remained resolute and were rewarded with the win.
Kashiwa Reysol’s form continues to be of concern for the titleholders, as they failed to overcome the resistance of a Sagan Tosu side who picked up their first away point of the season at the Hitachi Kashiwa Soccer Stadium. Kashiwa’s defence of their crown already looks in ruins as they sit fourteen points behind leaders Vegalta Sendai. In an entertaining match in which both sides were unable to take advantage of a plethora of opportunities, the Sun Kings’ only goal of the game came courtesy of Hideaki Kitajima just prior to the interval. Working the ball around the Sagan penalty area, Leandro Domingues earned his side a corner, and Jorge Wagner’s delivery to the near post was glanced on by Kitajima via the shoulder of the unfortunate Tomotaka Okamoto beyond Taku Akahoshi. Sagan’s reply on 70 minutes came largely as a result of Min-Woo Kim’s expertly delivered free-kick, and forward Tozin legitimately preventing goalkeeper Koji Inada from getting a fist to the ball. Teruaki Kobayashi thrased the rebound into the roof of the net to extend Sagan’s feel-good start to the 2012 campaign, proudly sitting in fifth place and at this stage of the season capable of worrying any side.
Kawasaki Frontale welcomed new manager Yahiro Kazama to the Todoroki Stadium, but he will not have enjoyed the sight of his charges capitulating to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Hisato Sato netted twice to sustain his impressive scoring record in 2012, while Satoru Yamagishi and Naoki Ishihara bagged a goal apiece. Hiroki Ito’s 33rd minute strike was scant consolation to Kazama, who finds his team in twelfth place and with just ten points after eight league games.
Kashima Antlers thumped five past a sorry Gamba Osaka side whose slide into the relegation places has not yet been halted by Masanobu Matsunami. This marked Kashima’s third consecutive victory in J.League Division 1 after five straight defeats, and has earned Jorginho some breathing space having lifted his team into tenth place in the table. A lovely strike from Yasushi Endo after good work from Daigo Nishi on the edge of the Gamba 18-yard box found the top left corner two minutes before half-time, and this was the signal for Gamba’s complete collapse in the second period. Eight minutes after the restart Toru Araiba was left alone in space on the left wing, and he waltzed into the penalty area before laying off to Shinzo Koroki. Koroki was allowed to turn and shoot much too easily, his effort finding the left corner of Yosuke Fujigaya’s goal.
Just over ten minutes later Yuya Osako added the first of his two goals, a lofted drive from eighteen yards which beat the despairing hand of Fujigaya after clever play from Dutra on the left-hand side. Endo and Osako were both involved in the build up to Kashima’s fourth, Osaka’s back-heel the invitation for substitute Masahi Motoyama to fire home from 20 yards with one minute of normal time remaining, before Osako rounded off the match in stoppage time, gifted to him by Fujigaya who came to clear a long through-ball but completely missed his kick. What will be most disconcerting for Matsunami was the ease with which his defence was split open time and again, Osako and Koroki both finding the woodwork in a game where Kashima would not have been flattered had they scored eight.
Omiya Ardija handed Consadole Sapporo another defeat, making this seven straight losses in J.League Division 1 for Nobuhiro Ishizaki’s side. It took just ten minutes for the Squirrels to take the lead, Carlinhos heading home, and while Jumpei Takaki found an equaliser in first-half stoppage time, the supporters at the NACK5 Stadium would go home happy after Takuya Aoki gave them a 71st minute advantage that they would not surrender. Consa are scoring at a worryingly low rate, and Ishizaki will need to find a solution to his goal-shy team if they are to stand any chance of avoiding a immediate return to Division 2.
Yokohama F-Marinos trebled the number of goals they have scored on home turf in this season’s league campaign as they downed Vissel Kobe 3-1 at the Nissan Stadium. The Marinos’ chance creation was as consistent as previously, but they finally found a goal-scoring touch to marry to their creative play. However, it would be Vissel who would find the net first, Takuya Nozawa’s pull-back to sixteen yards met first-time by Tsubasa Oya, who gleefully smashed the ball past Hiroki Iikura on 57 minutes.
Three goals in just six minutes would seal the result for the Marinos, however, an excellent diving header from Yuji Ono levelling matters with 19 minutes remaining, and Hiroyuki Taniguchi direct a further header ome from a Yuji Ono cross, before Shunsuke Nakamura would deliver a deep set piece which Yuji Nakazawa bundled home at the back post.
Cerezo Osaka survived a late fight-back from Jubilo Iwata to emerge 3-2 winners at the Kincho Stadium, Hiroshi Kiyotake, Takahiro Ogihara and Bo-Kyung Kim all on target as they looked to be coasting to victory, the South Korean international’s goal arriving as late as the 83rd minute. However, Hiroki Yamada pulled one back with three minutes of normal time remaining, and a header in stoppage time from Byung-Kuk Cho meant an uneasy final few moments for the home side.
Please click here for the full match report for Albirex Niigata 0 Vegalta Sendai 1.