(Highlights of Jubilo Iwata’s 3-0 home win versus Kashima Antlers, a result which saw Shizuoka’s Sorrow end Matchday Eleven in fourth place in J.League Division 1)
FC Tokyo’s outstanding form away from the Ajinomoto Stadium continued with a 1-0 win at the Sapporo Dome versus Consadole. The Gas have suffered contrasting fortunes at home with three defeats in four matches, but they have taken fifteen of a possible eighteen points this season on their travels, and a single goal inside sixty seconds was all that was required to move into sixth place in the division.
Naohiro Ishikawa and Aria Hasegawa combined on the left-wing, and aided by a slip from Consa right-back Takuma Hidaka, Ishikawa delivered a flat cross to Yohei Kajiyama taking up a position on the six yard line. The attacking midfielder’s clever flick across the angle beat Lee Ho-Seung’s dive to give his side a lead they would never relinquish.
Under-23 Samurai Blue Shuichi Gonda was called into action on several occasions for the Gas, pulling off fine saves from Jumpei Takaki and Shunsuke Maeda, while Hiroyuki Furuta squandered Consadole’s best opportunity as he fired wide from close range. Kazuma Watanabe failed to make the most of a last-minute chance to double the visitors’ lead, but the result was rarely in doubt, and Consa are now seven points behind the safety of sixteenth place and a return to Division Two seems inevitable.
The Yamaha Stadium featured another impressive performance on home turf from Jubilo Iwata, this time scoring three goals without reply against Kashima Antlers. The Shizuoka Prefecture side were fortunate not to lose a goal in the opening sixty seconds as Dutra flashed a shot against the left upright, but on ten minutes Shunsuke Maeda stooped to head Baek Sung-Dong’s superb cross from the right, placing it past Hitoshi Sogahata’s outstretched right hand.
Both teams were guilty of spurning a number of openings, Yasushi Endo and Shinzo Koroki for the Antlers and Kosuke Yamomoto and Takuya Matsuura for Jubilo respectively failing to take advantage of good chances, and it wouldn’t be until the 84th minute that the home side stretched their lead. Maeda crossed from the right as Mitsuo Ogasawara failed to keep pace with Matsuura’s run into the penalty area, and the midfielder controlled before clipping the ball over Sogahata.
The final goal came courtesy of an excellent individual strike from Hiroki Yamada as the game crept into stoppage time, the captain tussling with Ogasawara and winning the challenge before arrowing a shot into the top left-corner from outside the 18-yard box. Jubilo climbed into fourth place owing to a superior goal difference to Urawa Red Diamonds.
Sagan Tosu’s proud unbeaten record at the Best Amenity Stadium was in jeopardy until the 91st minute of their seventh league game in Tosu, when an own goal from Omiya Ardija’s Yu Hasegawa cancelled out Takuya Aoki’s opener scored only nine minutes earlier. Ardija goalkeeper Takashi Kitano failed to connect with his attempted punch from Naoyuki Fujita’s long throw, clearing Sagan’s Kim Kun-Hwan and Ryota Hayasaka and bouncing off Hasegawa’s shin into the net. While the equaliser owed much to good fortune, it was certainly deserved as Sagan created the greater proportion of the chances, including a Kim Min-Woo drive that crashed off the Ardija crossbar. Sagan dropped to seventh in the table, but a remarkable defence continues to perform admirably having conceded a miserly six goals from eleven games.
Kashiwa Reysol struck twice in the second half and posted just their second clean sheet of the 2012 campaign in defeating Kawasaki Frontale at the Todoroki Athletics Stadium. It was a contest that the Sun Kings dominated from the outset, and seven minutes had elapsed when Yohei Nishibe was required to make his first save, pushing over a fierce left-footed shot from Junya Tanaka.
Leandro Domingues came within inches of scoring a superlative individual effort with a quarter of an hour played, weaving his way past three Frontale players before carefully placing a right-footed shot just beyond the right upright with Nishibe beaten. Domingues would come close again on the half hour mark, a first time shot from Hiroki Sakai’s cross pushed away from goal by the Frontale goalkeeper.
Reysol had failed to make their possession and control of the match tell, however, and they were almost undone at the beginning of the second period after some individual excellence from Rene Santos. The defender’s surging run into the penalty area took him past two Reysol defenders, and he just couldn’t apply the finishing touch to lift the ball over Koji Inada. Moments later Jumpei Kusukami found the crossbar with a bicycle kick after Kengo Nakamura’s deep free-kick was diverted into his path, before Masato Kudo finally opened the scoring for Reysol on 63 minutes. Hiroki Sakai did very well to wrap his foot around the ball on the right touchline, and his cross to the backpost was controlled by Junya Tanaka. Tanaka fed the ball to Kudo on the edge of the six yard area, and while his first effort was blocked, the rebound was returned straight to him and he made no mistake at the second attempt.
With the fixture entering stoppage time, Yusuke Tasaka missed a glorious opportunity to level the scores, putting a header over Inada’s crossbar from barely two yards, and Jorge Wagner then ensured Reysol had only their third win of the season, Kudo holding up play before passing for the Brazilian to drive home left-footed. The Sun Kings, who face Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in a must-win tie in the AFC Champions League tomorrow, now lie in fourteenth place in J1.
J.League Division One joint top scorers Sanfrecce Hiroshima could only find the net once at the Big Arch and conceded three as Yokohama F-Marinos won their fourth match in succession. As Sanfre would have ended the day in second place had they taken three points, it will probably come as scant consolation that their solitary strike is a contender for the goal of this or any other J.League season. Six minutes were on the clock when midfielder Toshihiro Aoyama smashed a shot from 65 yards, which traced an arc high over Hiroki Iikura before dropping under the crossbar and into the net.
Naoki Ishihara should have doubled Sanfre’s advantage when he found space in the penalty area with only Iikura to beat, but he placed his effort straight at the Marinos stopper, and the guests evened the scores when Yuji Ono’s cross from the left was met by Marquinhos, rising above Satoru Yamagishi to head home at the back post.
Ono was again the provider with thirteen minutes remaining, Marinos taking the lead as the forward’s delivery to the backpost was headed goalwards by substitute Masashi Oguro. Shusaku Nishikawa could only parry the ball to the edge of the six-yard area, and Manabu Saito snaffled up the opportunity as a lackadaisical Kazuhiko Chiba failed to react.
The three points would be made safe on 83 minutes, Shunsuke Nakamura’s corner powerfully headed past Nishikawa by Seitaro Tomisawa, Chiba again at fault defensively. The Marinos are now in the top half of the table, in a compressed group of seven who are no more than three points off third place.
A last gasp Alex Brosque goal denied Cerezo Osaka a victory at the Outsourcing Stadium Nihondaira, Shimizu S-Pulse holding on to one of only three unbeaten home records in the division after his 96th minute equaliser. With Cerezo struggling to clear and a cross bouncing around in their penalty area, deflections via S-Pa’s Taisuke Murumatsu and the away teams’s Masato Kurogi allowed Alex the simplest of finishes from two yards. Yoichiro Kakitani scored his first goal in J1 for Cerezo.
Urawa Red Diamonds and Albirex Niigata played out a 1-1 draw at the Saitama Stadium 2002. Skillful play from Tomoaki Makino on the Urawa left enabled him to beat a defender and cross, and as Albirex goalkeeper Masaaki Higashiguchi fumbled his block, Marcio Richardes was on hand to turn the ball into an unguarded net with eleven minutes played. Bruno Lopes gave Albi a share of the spoils, his 29th minute first-time volley leaving Nobuhiro Kato motionless between the Reds posts.
It’s five wins, no draws and a sixth defeat for Vissel Kobe, as they stumbled against Nagoya Grampus at the HOME’S Stadium. Keiji Tamada volleyed home Josh Kennedy’s cross at the near post shortly before the interval, and Grampus maintained their upward trajectory to end the day in eighth place.
For a full run-down of Matchday Eleven’s final tie featuring Gamba Osaka and Vegalta Sendai, which I was sadly unable to provide owing to technical problems, please read Sean Carroll’s report.