J.League Division 1: Matchday Ten Round-up

(An eventful game at the Hitachi Kashiwa Soccer Stadium saw Sanfrecce Hiroshima put five past Reysol and only concede two in return, as Sanfre moved into third place while condemning the reigning champions to their fifth defeat in only nine games)

The J.League’s last remaining unbeaten record came to an end as Vegalta Sendai lost at the Yurtec Stadium to Shimizu S-Pulse, who now sit two points behind the early pace-setters as the first third of the 2012 campaign draws to a close. Genki Omae scored the only goal of a game in which weather conditions played a significant part, at one stage being suspended due to thunderstorms which swept across the country. Five minutes before half-time Yosuke Kawai picked up a pass on the left-wing, and the 22 year-old midfielder turned inside Naoki Sugai to bend a cross right-footed. Omae’s run across Park Ju-Sung was perfectly timed, and he had the simplest of headers to give S-Pa the lead from six yards. Not even being reduced to ten man midway through the second period prevented S-Pulse from collecting the three points, defender Calvin Jong A Pin seeing red after receiving his second booking of the match for a challenge on Wilson.

Yokohama F-Marinos, who began the season with no wins after seven fixtures played, gained their third in a row courtesy of a 2-1 result over bottom-dwellers Consadole Sapporo, and moved up to the relative comfort of thirteenth place in the table. The Nissan Stadium saw the hosts control the match from start to finish, the shot count of 21 to 3 emphasising both the domination of Marinos and Consa’s regular inability to fashion goalscoring chances. Shunsuke Nakamura nearly gave his side the lead early on, Masashi Oguro laying the ball off to the centre-midfielder, and his low drive from 30 yards was well-beaten away by Lee Ho-Seung as the ball bounced awkwardly in front of him. The early pressure told after 22 minutes, Manabu Saito intercepting a very wayward pass from Consadole’s Shunsuke Maeda in midfield, and his delivery to Yuji Ono on the right was immediately forwarded to Oguro in the penalty area. Lee’s advance ensured the initial shot from eight yards was blocked, but Saito prevented the Consa goalkeeper from gathering fully and Nakamura thumped home past both Jade North and Hiroki Miyazawa stationed on the goal-line.

A series of defensive blunders enabled Consa to score a surprise leveller five minutes later. First Yuji Nakazawa could only slice an attempted clearance into the path of Shunsuke Iwanuma, and while his attempted shot fizzed past three Marinos players on its way out for a goal-kick, Hiroyuki Furuta ghosted past a nonchalant Dutra at the far post to divert the ball beyond Hiroki Iikura.

This season’s missteps began to re-assert themselves for Marinos as they were unable to make the most of a number of opportunities to re-take the lead, an excellent stop from Lee shortly before half-time preventing a deflected Saito shot from dribbling over the line, while substitute Hiroyuki Taniguchi nodded wide after Nakamura’s trickery had baffled Yusuke Kondo and his inviting cross deserved better. Marinos were almost made to pay for their wastefulness when Makoto Sunakawa was sent through on Iikura, but a poor first touch narrowed his shooting angle and the subsequent drive across goal was at the perfect height for the Marinos keeper to push away, with a visibly frustrated Kondo making his feelings known at the back post.

A lovely move involving several players sealed the result and a deserved victory for Marinos. Nakamura’s pass to Marquinos on the edge of the penalty area took two touches to be delivered to a completely unmarked Ono on the left-wing, and his pinpoint delivery was met by Taniguchi, rising above Kazuki Kushibiki, to head into the bottom left corner.

Two of the division’s most erratic sides met at the Kincho Stadium, Cerezo Osaka and Vissel Kobe sharing three goals and Vissel taking the points. The first goal of the match came ten minutes before the interval, Ryo Okui exchanging passes with Park Kang-Jo before seeing his run come to an end as the victim of some shirt-pulling by Yusuke Maruhashi inside the 18-yard box. Despite some blatant gamesmanship from Kim Jin-Hyeon and Teruyuki Moniwa among several others, captain Takayuki Yoshida was calmness personified as he took three steps before dispatching the penalty kick-off high into the middle of Kim’s goal.

Cerezo equalised with a spot-kick of their own five minutes later, but it was a much less clear-cut decision and defender Kunie Kitamoto may well feel aggrieved at official Hideaki Nishio judging him to have tripped Kim Bo-Kyung, when the midfielder already appeared to be falling to the floor and any contact was made by the Cerezo player. Kim was equally assured with his own penalty, placing the ball to Kenta Tokushige’s left.

The game would be won when Takuya Nozawa’s angled drive from 20 yards beat Kim Jin-Hyeon’s outstretched left-hand. Breaking quickly and making the most of a three-on-three, Nozawa received a chipped pass on halfway, sending the ball into the path of substitute Ryota Morioka on the right. Morioka shimmied inside before returning to Nozawa, and his finish ensured a welcome second away win of the season for Vissel in anticipation of entertaining Nagoya Grampus at the HOME’S Stadium on Matchday Eleven.

Not only goals rained down for Sanfrecce Hiroshima, as the Hitachi Kashiwa Soccer Stadium was witness to both dreadful first-half conditions and the worst possible for result for Reysol, who have now taken just five points from a possible fifteen at home. Despite rallying from a two goal deficit after the interval, three Sanfre strikes after 85 minutes had been played moved the guests into third place in the division.

Hisato Sato’s tenth minute header provided the opening goal of the game, but great credit must be given to Yohbiro Takahagi, who volleyed a Ryota Moriwaki cross-field pass beautifully at the feet of Naoki Ishihara. Ishihara’s cross was well-judged to allow an unmarked Sato to nod into the net from six yards.

Just the single goal separated the sides until half-time, and there was no indication of the glut that would arrive in the second period as weather conditions eased. Leandro Domingues should have scored for the Sun Kings immediately after the restart, but he planted a simple header wide of Shusaku Nishikawa’s right post from seven yards, and he was made to regret the miss when Sato added his second of the match sixty seconds later. Reysol, who have been plagued by defensive lapses in all competitions, saw right-back Hiroki Sakai inexplicably leave his right-back position to challenge Takahagi in midfield, forcing Tatsuya Masushima to drift right to cover Satoru Yamagishi, and creating space between central defenders Masushima and Wataru Hashimoto which Sato exploited. Takahagi’s pace was perfectly weighted to the forward, and he took one touch before steering the ball past the advancing Koji Inada into the bottom left corner.

Reysol’s fight-back began with thirty minutes remaining. Sakai guided a long ball to replacement Juyna Tanaka on the edge of the Sanfrecce penalty area, and with his back to goal he controlled on his chest, before turning and sending a spectacular half-volley into the top-left corner. Kazuhiko Chiba should have been closer to the attacking midfielder, but that should in no way diminish what was a wonderful strike. Reysol then levelled after 77 minutes, an attempted defensive header from Hiroki Mizumoto only finding Jorge Wagner’s left foot, and he volleyed first time across the angle to bring his side back into the match.

Five minutes were left when Sanfrecce restored their advantage. A wicked, curling, low cross from Mikic deep in midfield was turned in by Takahagi under pressure from a labouring Sakai, and with Reysol pressing for their second equaliser of the tie, Takahagi then turned provider, a delightful pass with the outside of his right foot enabling Naoki Ishihara to control before finishing under the body of Inada. Ishihara then completed the scoring and his brace deep into stoppage time. As Reysol pushed higher and higher up the pitch, a simple long pass allowed the midfielder to run unimpeded from halfway, and he calmly finished to Inada’s left from twelve yards.

Honours were even at the Ecopa Stadium as Jubilo Iwata and Urawa Red Diamonds scored two goals apiece. A crowd of just over 22,000 were in good voice in a first-half which saw South Korean attacking midfielder Baek Sung-Dong hand the home side the upper hand. Hiroki Yamada’s clipped cross was sent to the back post, and with Baek losing Koji Noda, he placed his header past Nobuhiro Kato. The Reds responded in impressive fashion after the break, first Tomoaki Makino reacting quickly to send a first-time shot into the bottom left after Marcio Richardes’ corner been cleverly deflected into his path by Koji Noda, and then Genki Haraguchi’s excellent close control allowed him to fire into the top left despite being surrounded by three Jubilo defenders after 66 minutes. The home side’s retort come just five minutes later, however, and from Yamada’s second assist it was the striking Baek with his second header of the match who ensured the scoreline ended tied.

Kawasaki Frontale, whose form away from home stands in stark contrast to their underwhelming performances at the Todoroki Athletics Stadium, notched up another excellent victory on the road, this time downing Nagoya Grampus 3-2 at the Toyota Stadium. Two of the goals came inside the seven minutes, the first from Frontale’s Yusuke Tasaka, which was soon cancelled out by the returning Josh Kennedy’s long-range strike. Takuro Yajima then added a brace for the visitors before the end of the first period, Kengo Nakamura providing the assists for both a header and a shot across the angle from distance. Jungo Fujimoto pulled one back with twenty minutes to play, but Grampus could not find the third goal which would have lifted them into the top half of the table and two points off fourth place with a game in hand.

Masanobu Matsunami is still struggling to devise an appropriate remedy for his ailing Gamba Osaka side, falling to yet another defeat as they visited the NACK5 Stadium. Shortly after Yasuhito Endo failed to put away the easiest of headers to give Gamba the lead, the solitary goal of a tight encounter came as a result of Omiya weaving a number of passes through midfield. Takumi Shiomhira, Yu Hasegawa and Cho Young-Cheol’s neat, precise passing allowed Carlinhos to shoot, and as his attempt looped over the defence via a deflection off Shu Kurata, Cho Young-Cheol pounced on the loose ball to fire home. Gamba are in seventeenth place in the table and next face a very difficult tie at the Osaka Expo ’70 Stadium as they welcome league leaders Vegalta Sendai.

Division One’s best defence secured another clean sheet as Sagan Tosu left the Kashima Soccer Stadium with the point that keeps the newly promoted side in fifth place for another week. Kim Min-Woo came closest for Tosu, the Sagan midfielder’s fierce strike at an angle from six yards finding the post and rebounding into the arms of a relieved Hitoshi Sogahata. The Antlers may have attempted more than double the number of shots than Tosu, but they were restricted almost entirely to long-distance efforts by a back-line which remains practically impenetrable, and when Mitsuo Ogasawara’s late corner was headed goalward by Daiki Iwamasa, Tosu defender Ryuhei Niwa was perfectly positioned to clear off the line.

Please click the link for the full match report for Albirex Niigata 0 FC Tokyo 2.


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