J.League Division 1: Matchday Nine Round-up

(A fan captures Yohei Toyoda’s 57th minute equaliser against Vegalta Sendai, in the Matchday Nine fixture which ensured Sagan remain undefeated at home while Vegalta are unbeaten in the league)

Consadole Sapporo’s extended wait for a victory in J.League Division One is over, as a single goal at the Atsubetsu Stadium was sufficient to claim a long overdue win. One point was all Consa had to show for their efforts since the 2012 season began nearly two months ago, but they surprised visitors Cerezo Osaka, whose maddening unpredictability is underlined by four wins and four losses in just nine matches. Yusuke Kondo was the hero for the home side, who deceived Teruyuki Moniwa with a turn inside the penalty area before prodding into the bottom left corner, but great credit is also due to Takuma Hidaka in dispossessing Hiroshi Kiyotake midway inside Cerezo territory, before finding the 27 year-old forward with his through-ball.

Consa’s energy and extraordinary work-rate more than made up for any perceived differences in technical ability between the two sides, Shunsuke Maeda and Hiroyuki Furuta in particular a constance menace, and Maeda came close to scoring what would have been one of the goals of this and any other J.League season shortly after the restart. Picking up a loose ball five yards from halfway, a strong run and clever skill took him past Hotaru Yamaguchi, Takahiro Ogihara and Moniwa into the 18-yard box, but he just couldn’t find the net as he clipped his attempted finish past the advancing Jin-Hyeon Kim. There was some troubling news for Consa, as the effervescent Maeda left the field on a stretcher with half an hour still to play, but there was still plenty to smile about as they claimed their first clean sheet and points since the opening day of the season, and ensured that the closest the guests came to scoring was an attempted Noriyuki Sakemoto cross which thudded back off the crossbar and away from danger.

Keijiro Ogawa opening the scoring within 3 minutes at the HOME’S Stadium, and Kwang-Seaon Lee and Hiroto Mogi added twomore in the second-half as Vissel completed a 3-0 win over Omiya Ardija. Young-Gwon Kim’s attempted back-pass to keeper Takashi Kitano was weak, and Ogawa exploited the defender’s blunder, beating Kitano to the ball and sliding it into the bottom right corner. Kim compounded his earlier error as he was equally culpable for Vissel’s second of the match, a lofted Takuya Nozawa cross headed home from just two yards by Lee a quarter of an hour into the second half. Kim was standing on the wrong side of a player he was supposed to be marking, and Lee simply slipped further away to allow himself the easiest of finishes. Mogi rounded off the scoring eight minutes later, after a long ball from Ryo Okui was controlled inside the 18-yard area by Nozawa, and although Ryota Morioka’s fiercely struck drive from Nozawa’s pull back was saved by Kitano, Mogi was on hand to calmly side-foot the rebound home. Vissel now sit one place above The Squirrels in the league, and they next visit Cerezo Osaka aiming for a result which would likely move them into the top half of the table.

Five goals in fourteen extraordinary second-half minutes formed part of a thrilling match at the Todoroki Stadium, Kawasaki Frontale emerging victorious 4-3 against Jubilo Iwata. The opening 45 minutes gave no indication of what would occur after the break, Ryota Oshima’s goal on the half hour mark the difference between the two sides. Takuro Yajima crossed low into the six yard area from the Jubilo touchline, and Oshima escaped Yuki Kobayashi to plant a left footed shot past Naoki Hatta.

Kengo Nakamura was at the heart of the build-up to Frontale’s second, with patient passing and movement around the Jubilo 18-yard area culminating in Oshima’s clever pass to Yajima. Kosuke Yamamoto’s attempted challenge only succeeded in up-ending the forward, leaving referee Tomohiro Inoue no choice but to point to the spot. Yajima drilled the ball into the bottom right, Hatta diving the wrong way, to extend the home side’s advantage after 53 minutes.

Two became three two minutes later, as Jo Kanazawa’s across his own penalty area led to an awful defensive mix-up between Yoshiaki Fujita and Hatta, and with each player leaving it to the other to clear, it was Yusuke Tanaka who took advantage to clip the ball into the net from eight yards.

Kosuke Yamamoto fired home to reduce the deficit with little over half an hour to play, Shun Morishita culpable for failing to clear Ryohei Yamazaki’s cross, and the midfielder whipped a shot across the angle which was far beyond Yohei Nishibe’s reach.

The hosts were three goals in front once more just three minutes later, a long ball out of defence skipping past two defenders, leaving Yajima one-on-one with Hatta, and he stroked the ball to Hatta’s left to take his tally to three for the season. Jubilo are the league’s second highest top scorers for good reason, however, and Yamamoto’s brace came courtesy of a close range header following Yoshiro Abe’s superb delivery from the right.

Frontale attempted to consolidate their 4-2 lead, and after several goals had been scored in less than fifteen breathless minutes, no more were added until the first minute of stoppage time, late substitute Sung-Dong Baek’s cross skidding across the damp turf and presenting Abe with the simplest of finishes at the back post. Frontale held on, however, and they returned to the top half of the table, just one point behind Jubilo in a season so far where just six points separate third from fourteenth.

Albirex Niigata ended Sanfrecce’s unbeaten record at the Hiroshima Big Arch, and shrugged off the bitter disappointment of Matchday Eight’s 1-0 home reverse to Vegalta Sendai, Naoya Kikuchi scoring the only goal of the game in a match which Sanfre dominated but couldn’t pentrate a stubborn Albi defence. Jun Uchida’s cross was too strong and headed over the touchline for a goal-kick when Ryota Moriwaki attempted volley clear, and the defender only succeeding in pushing the ball directly into Kikuchi’s path. The central midfielder slammed home from twelve yards to give his side their second away victory of the campaign, and on Sunday they will attempt to follow up with their first three points at home as they welcome FC Tokyo to the Tohoku Denryoku Big Swan Stadium.

Sagan Tosu and Vegalta Sendai both left the Best Amenity Stadium with honour intact, Sagan preserving their proud unbeaten start to the season at their home ground, while Vegalta are still yet to lose in J.League Division 1 in 2012. The visitors went in front thanks to a Shingo Tomita strike on 19 minutes, Kun-Hwan Kim leaping well to beat Wilson in the air, but only heading as far as Tomita 22 yards from goal, who controlled on his chest before finding the perfect angle on the volley to beat Taku Akaoshi’s straining dive into the top right. The hosts, however, who had not conceded at their home ground prior to the arrival of the league leaders, were not to be denied, and they gained the point their performance merited twelve minutes after the break through Yohei Toyoda. A lofted ball out of defence was aimed perfectly to where Toyoda signalled, and he chested the ball into the penalty area before striking a vicious left-footed volley high into the roof of Takuto Hayashi’s net. Both teams sit in the places they began the day, fifth and first respetively.

Click the following link for the full match report covering Urawa Red Diamonds and Yokohama F-Marinos.

In the final Division 1 game to be played on 3 May, Shimizu S-Pulse welcomed Kashima Antlers to the Outsourcing Stadium Nihondaira, and recorded a 3-0 victory against a side who only a few days previously had put five past Gamba Osaka without reply. Five minutes had elapsed when full-back Tutaka Yoshida fired a low ball across the Antlers six-yard box after receiving a quick diagonal pass from Yosuke Kawai, and with Daiki Iwamasa forcing his own goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata into make a save as he diverted the ball on target, the simplest of rebounds presented itself to Sho Ito, who knocked the ball into an unguarded net.

Having seen Toshiyuki Takagi hit the crossbar on 53 minutes and Ito then denied a reasonable claim for a penalty as Iwamasa pulled him back, Takagi doubled the advantage with eighteen minutes left to play. Iwamasa was again at fault as he continued to retreat rather than attempt to challenge Takagi, who was able to run unimpeded from 40 yards and curl his shot into the bottom right from the edge of the area. Three minutes later victory was made safe as Takagi turned provider, a lovely left-footed cross allowing an umarked Genki Omae to send a perfectly executed first-time volley beyond Sogahata. The result allowed S-Pa to claim sole custody of second place in the division, and second next meets first in one of the highlights of the weekend’s matches, as they travel to the Yurtec to face Vegalta.

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