(Highlights of the J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup clash between Kashima Antlers and Omiya Ardija. Kashima won 1-0 to make it two wins out of two in Group B)
The match of the round saw a thrilling 4-3 win for Jubilo Iwata against Urawa Red Diamonds at the Yahama Stadium, which extends Jubilo’s winning streak to five matches. Ryoichi Maeda nodded the home side ahead, a pinpoint cross delivered to the back post from the boot of defender Yuichi Komano leaving Maeda with very little to do in front of goal.
The Reds struck back with one of the goals of the season so far, Shunki Takahashi exchanging passes with Genki Haraguchi on the touchline before dropping the ball back to Mizuki Hamada. Hamada lofted a delightful ball into the area, Tatsuya Tanaka rising to meet it, and heading on perfectly for the late run of Shuto Kojima who controlled on the chest before thumping a volley into the top left of the goal from right of the six yard box. The visitors then edged in front courtesy of an own goal, Rodrigo Souto heading into his own net from a set piece one minute into first-half stoppage time.
A diving Mitsuru Chiyotanda brought the teams level again, heading in a guided Hiroki Yamada free-kick with 12 minutes played in the second period, and 77 minutes had elapsed when Takuya Matsuura gave Jubilo the advantage for the second time. The home side had patiently passed the ball around the edge of the 18 yard box when a delightful back-heel from Yamada found Matsuura, and catching covering defender Mitsuru Nagata unawares he prodded the ball past his legs and beyond goalkeeper Norihiro Yamagishi. A superb header just three minutes later from Shunki Takahashi pegged back Jubilo, but they were not to be denied. Eight minutes were left on the clock when defender Koji Noda, who should have cleared, instead attempted to dribble past Yamada, and the crucial error allowed the substitute to tackle. Yamada stepped inside Nobuhisa Yamada, and he cracked a left-footed shot from 20 yards that nestled in the bottom right to take the lead for the third and final time in the match.
Vegalta Sendai saw off this season’s surprise package so far, Sagan Tosu, 2-0 at the Yurtec Stadium. A 51st minute Toshihiro Matsushita free-kick was directed beyond the reach of Tatsuro Okuda, and 10 minutes later Makoto Kakuda followed up to make sure of the points for the home side.
The final action in Group A saw Kawasaki Frontale travelling to the Hiroshima Big Arch to face Sanfrecce. It was Frontale who would take the lead with a Jeci header with half an hour remaining, a lead they would keep until just five minutes from time when Hisato Sato popped up to head an equaliser from Toshihiro Aoyama’s cross. Sanfre nearly stole it with the kick of the game, a cross volleyed back across goal by Ryota Moriwaki, but Gakuto Notsuda’s shot was the wrong side of the right post.
In Group B action, Consadole Sapporo recorded their first victory in six attempts on Thursday, when they downed Yokohama F-Marinos 2-1 away at the NHK Spring Mitsuzawa Football Stadium, and the win will come as welcome relief for manager Nobuhiro Ishizaki whose team had not been rewarded early in the season for some sparkling football at times.
Sapporo’s opener on 6 minutes came courtesy of a comical error from Marinos captain Naoaki Aoyama when he stumbled and fell in receiving a simple back-pass ten yards into his own half, allowing Hideo Oshima to run unimpeded to the edge of the penalty area. With goalkeeper Yuji Rokutan seemingly unsure if he should advance beyond the penalty spot to close down the angle, Oshima simply slotted a low finish past him into the bottom right-hand corner.
Yosuke Mikami came very close to extending Consadole’s lead, Oshima nearly turning provider after battling his way through a number of defenders. The Sapporo skipper laid the ball off to Mikami, who shot left-footed across the angle inside the Marinos penalty area but screwed his shot inches wide of the right upright. Marinos forward Manabu Saito then nodded over the bar from the penalty spot trying to adjust his body to a difficult headed chance, before Takayuki Mae jinked his way to the edge of the penalty area from the right touchline, beating two Marinos challenges but drilling his left-footed shot straight at Rokutan.
Two excellent saves from Takahiro Takagi, first from Yuji Ono and then an athletic leap high to his right to stop a stunning volleyed effort from Rei Matsumoto kept Consadole in front, and just before the half-time whistle blew the Sapporo side launched a lightning counter-attack, Shota Kakaki chesting and then heading the ball beyond Rokutan from Takuma Hidaka’s lovely floated cross.
Consadole had weathered a number of attacks in the first-half and the second period began with a similar onslaught. Naoaki Aoyama nearly made up for his first half error when he volleyed just past the post from the edge of the penalty area, and then Manabu Saito went on an electrifying run midway into Consadole territory, drifting to the right edge of the penalty area before pulling back superbly for Sho Matsumoto to finish smartly on the turn into the bottom left-hand corner with 22 minutes remaining. Searching for the equaliser Saito again beat a number of players deep into Consadole territory, but could only send a shot straight at Takagi, before Ogura’s attempted volley at the death presented Kosuke Nakamachi with a close range header but he lifted it beyond the crossbar.
Shimizu S-Pulse began their Yamazaki Nabisco Cup campaign with a 1-0 success over Albirex Niigata at the Outsourcing Stadium, though the manner in which Daigo Kobayashi scored the only goal of the game was very fortuitous. Yosuke Kawai received a pass centrally on the 18 yard box, but mishit his shot, the ball spinning through two defenders and with Kobayashi being played onside by Yusuke Murakami, thrashed the ball past Misaaki Higashiguchi in the Albi goal.
The final match in Group B was contested by Kashima Antlers and Omiya Ardija at the Kashima Soccer Stadium. While Kashima seemingly can’t buy a J.League Division 1 win, the reigning J.League Cup champions have won both of their opening fixtures, this time defeating Omiya by the single goal. Kashima had the first of the chances, a clever move involving first Yasushi Endo, followed by Yuya Osako returning the ball to Endo ending with a fine save by Takashi Kitano from an equally fine Gabu Shibasaki shot. At the other end of the field of play, Yu Hasegawa should really have done better than to send a header a couple of feet over the bar after Yuya Osaka had judged the delivery of his cross perfectly.
Kashima’s goal was created courtesy of excellent work by Shibasaki. He was spotted by Shinzo Koroki in space midway into the Squirrels’ half, and Shibasaki played a delicate throughball with the edge of his right foot behind Kosuke Kikuchi which Yuya Osako latched on to. Although Osako’s attempt was parried by Kitano, the rebound fell kindly for Koroki who controlled before dispatching the ball into the bottom left. Kitano then kept Omiya in the game after a thrilling run from Osako, in which he beat first Takumi Shimohira followed by both Takuya Aoki and Yosuke Kataoka before firing straight at the goalkeeper from a tight angle. Ardija were flattered by the scoreline, and would have been beaten by more save for a combination of Kitano’s excellence and some poor finishing from the home side, but they could have taken a point from a one-sided match had substitute Rafael managed to provide a final touch to some very skillful play around the penalty area, shooting left-footed into the ground and wide of the right post after beating two Kashima defenders.
Both Cerezo Osaka and Vissel Kobe did not play in this round of matches, and will next feature in the competition on Matchday Three on 18 April.