J.League Division 1: Matchday Fourteen Round-up

Vegalta Sendai maintained their grip on J.League Division 1 with victory at the Yurtec Stadium, aided by an inept Consadole Sapporo team whom they dominated across the ninety minutes, 24 shots and 13 corners doing little justice to the scale of their superiority. Consa forward Hideo Oshima may have given the guests a surprise lead in the first-half as he shot wide of Takuto Hayashi’s post from close range, but otherwise it was his opposite number Tetsu Sugiyama who was much the busier of the two goalkeepers, making a fine save from Naoki Sugai as he palmed the right-back’s fierce drive over his crossbar before diving to push Wilson’s left-footed half-volley behind for a corner. The first goal arrived late into stoppage time in the opening period, Kazunari Okayama unable to stay on his feet to leave Wilson to cross, his fellow forward Atsushi Yanagisawa seemingly diverting the ball wide until Masaki Yamamoto’s miscontrol sent the ball spinning into the bottom right corner. There was no question over whether Yanagisawa should be credited for Vegalta’s second, a fine volley two minutes from the restart completing a move in which Shingo Tomita and Yoskiaki Ota were involved.

There was a brief glimmer of hope for Consa on 49 minutes after Ryuji Kawai’s long ball had been headed into his own net by Jiro Kamata, but Vegalta ensured the Hokkaido representatives remained stuck on four points, headers from Wilson with 56 minutes played and Takayuki Nakahara sixteen minutes later sealing the victory. Consadole have not added to their points total since 3 May, and if they are to perform a miraculous recovery, it will need to begin when relegation-threatened Gamba Osaka visit the Sapporo Dome on Matchday Fourteen. Video of all the goals can be seen here.

Kashima Antlers and Nagoya Grampus played out a thriller at the Kashima Soccer Stadium, exchanging leads before Kensuke Nagai popped up in the 86th minute to give Dragan Stojković just his second away win of the season. Grampus’s Mu Kanazaki gave Yoshizumi Ogawa a glorious chance to open the scoring, but he lifted the ball over the crossbar from seven yards, and then a superb save by Seigo Narazai prevented Daiki Iwamasa putting the home side in front, touching his header on to the crossbar in a very open first half. Shortly after Juninho couldn’t find the power on his shot as he twisted on the corner of the six-yard box, and it appeared the first-half would remain goalless until a poor Takahiro Masukawa pass was intercepted by Gaku Shibasaki. Shibasaki’s cleverly angled pass gave Shinzko Koroki sufficient time to place his shot into the bottom right corner one minute before the break.

Nagai put Grampus on level terms with half an hour to play, neatly liking with Jungo Fujimoto before lashing a shot into the top right corner which Hitoshi Sogahata could only watch fly past his shoulder, and six minutes later they were ahead. Nagai was the provider, weaving his pass through the tightest of angles between Kazuya Yamamura and Toru Araiba to allow Mu Kanazaki to score from ten yards. Back came Antlers, Masashi Motoyama’s deft low shot flat-footing both Tulio Tanaka and his goalkeeper, but after Koroki wasted a chance to put his side in front for a second time, it was Nagai who would have the final word, collecting a Josh Kennedy knockdown on the left of the penalty area and guiding a wonderful shot into the opposite corner.

New manager Zdenko Verdenik was helpless in the face of a Kashiwa Reysol onslaught at the NACK5 Stadium, the Squirrels conceding four including a stunning Leandro Domingues volley in their 4-2 defeat. Omiya started positively, Carlinhos striding from midfield and arrowing a shot across the angle into the bottom right corner inside ten minutes, but Domingues’s sublime touch pegged Ardija back thirteen minutes later. A long ball of fully forty yards arrived over his shoulder, and the current J.League Player of the Year cushioned his first-time volley to lob the ball over Koji Ezumi and into an empty net for one of the goals of the season so far. Two further strikes in the space of eleven minutes gave the Sun Kings a comfortable lead, Jorge Wagner bending a shot into the top right corner followed by Masato Kudo deflecting a Junya Tanaka volley just inside the post, and Kudo put the result beyond any doubt straight from the restart, cutting across Yosuke Kataoka and firing past Ezumi from eighteen yards. The final goal of the game was provided by Cho Young-Cheol, taking advantage of Reysol’s inability to clear inside their penalty area. The result means Ardija lie just three points clear of the relegation places, Verdenik doubtless aware of the task ahead as his side continued to struggle for goals. Highlights of this match can be found here.

Yokohama F-Marinos may only have beaten FC Tokyo by the single goal at a sodden Nissan Stadium, but they heavily outplayed an impotent Gas, a combination of poor finishing and an outstanding Shuichi Gonda between the posts the only reasons why Ranko Popovic’s team did not slide to a greater defeat. Shingo Hyodo was the sole player on the scoresheet, Seitaro Tomisawa’s pass giving Hyodo the opportunity to shoot across Gonda, and his low strike under Gonda’s arm nestled in the bottom right corner. Marinos are now eighth, four points from third place and a side in scintillating form.

Albirex Niigata were able to provide Saturday’s second new manager with a brighter start to his career, ex-Jubilo Iwata boss Masaaki Yanagishita looking on as Albi enjoyed a 1-0 triumph over Shimizu S-Pule for their first J.League win in 2012 at the Tohoku Denryoku Big Swan Stadium. Having soaked up significant early pressure, Albi scored with their first shot of the game, Seijya Fujita turning home an excellent cross along the six yard box, and they are now three points behind fifteenth position.

Gamba Osaka are now in grave danger as they suffered a 2-1 reversal at the Osaka Expo ’70 Stadium, Urawa Red Diamonds climbing to third courtesy of goals from Genki Haraguchi and Tsukasa Umesaki, the latter coming in the 92nd minute. The day began promisingly for Masanobu Matsunami’s men, a vicious Paulinho strike from distance just finding the wrong side of Nobuhiro Kato’s crossbar, and on the stroke of 15 minutes Akihiro Sato heading home from the Brazilian’s corner. As so often this season, however, Gamba’s defending left much to be desired, Marcio Richardes allowed the freedom of the pitch to place a pass between four defenders which Haraguchi duly accepted on 29 minutes, and the second half introduction of Yasuhito Endo could not stop his team from falling to their eighth defeat of the season, Yosuke Hasiwagi picking out a completely unmarked Umesaki to slot home in stoppage time. Gamba have now conceded fourteen times at home, and are without a win since 22 April.

In a match attended by 10,600, Akira Nishino recorded his first victory as Vissel Kobe boss, his side becoming the first to score three goals at the Yamaha Stadium this season which all came courtesy of a hat-trick from teenage striker Keijiro Ogawa. His first could barely have been simpler as he headed his team in front inside the 6th minute, Tsubasa Oya very unlucky not to score as he diverted Yoshito Okubo’s driven corner against the crossbar to leave Ogawa to finish at the back post, Jubilo paying the price for choosing not to station any players close to either of the uprights.

The Shizuoka Prefecture outfit have not failed to find the net at home this season, however, and they were level with 26 minutes played. Yuichi Komano’s inviting cross met with a thumping header from Kosuke Yamamoto on the penalty spot, the ball flying into the top right corner to leave Kenta Tokushige well-beaten.

Eight minutes had elapsed in the second period when Vissel re-took a lead they would not surrender, a crisp passing move from the edge of their own 18-yard box involving four players sending Ogawa clear of Yoshiaki Fujita and Yuki Kobayashi, and he raced to the edge of the Jubilo penalty area to calmly side-foot the ball past Naoki Hatta.

The nineteen year-old then wrapped up his hat-trick and the three points with 28 minutes remaining, Okubo fending off a challenge from Hiroki Yamada on the right touchline before sending a ball skipping across a slippery surface for a tap-in from six yards.

Click the link to read the full match report for Cerezo Osaka 1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4.

The Best Amenity Stadium witnessed a Sagan Tosu side which didn’t find the net for the first time since the opening day of the season, Yusuke Tasaka scoring the only game of the game for Kawasaki Frontale, who have won six of their last eight J.League fixtures and climbed to fourth in the table. In a match that was always likely to be tight, Sagan boasting the best defensive record in the division, a fine cross from Yusuke Tanaka overlapping on the right was converted by the 26-year old midfielder with ten minutes remaining. Tozin, coming on as an 84th minute replacement for Kei Ikeda, nearly found an equaliser for Tosu in stoppage time, but Yohei Nishibe pushed his header against the post to stop the Brazilian scoring.

The losses for both Jubilo and Sagan mean that Shimizu S-Pulse are the only team to remain unbeaten at home across the J.League in 2012, and S-Pa’s record will be put to the test on Matchday Fifteen when they welcome Yoon Jung-Hwan’s side to the Outsourcing Stadium Nihondaira next Saturday.

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