Monday 28 May 2012

Tosu hit back to put Gamba in real danger of relegation



2008 Asian champions Gamba Osaka have been cast fully six points adrift of safety ahead of the J. League’s three-week break for the World Cup qualifiers, after Masanobu Matsunami’s men surrendered a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 at home to newly-promoted Sagan Tosu on Friday night.

The hosts at Banpaku did get off to the perfect start when, in just the third minute, Paulinho successfully closed down Ryuhei Niwa and sent in a cross for Takahiro Futagawa to open the scoring on his return to the starting XI after five games on the sidelines.

Gamba continued to dominate and created a succession of good chances, Yasuyuki Konno going closest when his header struck the right-hand goalpost. But having been frustrated with the 1-0 half-time scoreline, they finally extended their advantage midway through the second period when Akihiro Sato extended a toe to reach Yasuhito Endo’s cross.

However, as the home fans continued to celebrate what looked like an assured victory, Tosu hit back right from the restart, when Yohei Toyoda managed to flick a long throw from Naoyuki Fujita inside the far post with the back of his head.

Instantly, the momentum of the game flipped completely, and Gamba’s fragile confidence subsided further when Fujita curled the ball home for the equaliser and his own first ever J1 goal with four minutes left on the clock.

The hosts sought in vain for a winner but were again caught on the breakaway, and Fujita slotted calmly past Atsushi Kimura to steal all three points for Sagan with the final kick of the game.

Nagoya Grampus are another big club with a disappointing league position to ponder over the break after they succumbed to a third successive home defeat, losing 1-0 to Gamba’s city rivals Cerezo Osaka.

Brazilian forward Kempes netted the only goal of the game early in the second period following a fine solo run from Kim Bo-Kyung, and a below-par Nagoya were unable to hit back despite Cerezo forward Ryuji Bando seeing red with still half an hour remaining.

The result lifts Cerezo above Grampus on goal difference with 17 points, alongside defending champions Kashiwa Reysol who beat Albirex Niigata 2-0 on Saturday. Niigata, like Gamba, remain stuck on just nine.

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At the top, Vegalta Sendai’s lead is down to two points after they came out second best in a five-goal thriller away to Kawasaki Frontale.

The visitors fought back from Yu Kobayashi’s opener to lead 2-1 through sensational strikes from Shingo Tomita and Wilson, but Kyohei Noborizato levelled things up again before Takuro Yajima’s header won it for Kawasaki in the final minute.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima held onto second with a straightforward 3-1 victory away to bottom club Consadole Sapporo, while Jubilo Iwata leapfrogged local rivals Shimizu S-Pulse into third thanks to a 4-0 drubbing of Omiya Ardija. S-Pulse were held to a goalless draw at home to Yokohama F Marinos.

Akira Nishino’s first game in charge of Vissel Kobe did not quite go according to the script, as his side fell two down at home to Kashima Antlers and missed a number of chances before ultimately losing 2-1.

FC Tokyo drew 1-1 with Urawa Reds in Saturday’s late game.


TALKING POINTS
- Japan warmed up for their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers with a 2-0 friendly win over Azerbaijan in Shizuoka last Wednesday. Shinji Kagawa gave the Samurai Blue the lead shortly before half time, before an Agil Nabiyev own goal in the second period.
- Alberto Zaccheroni will now lead his side into competitive battle with home games in Saitama against Oman on Sunday 3 June and Jordan on Friday 8 June, before heading to Australia to face the Socceroos on Wednesday 12 June.


J1 results (matchday 13)
Gamba Osaka 2-3 Sagan Tosu
Nagoya Grampus 0-1 Cerezo Osaka
Consadole Sapporo 1-3 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Kawasaki Frontale 3-2 Vegalta Sendai
Shimizu S-Pulse 0-0 Yokohama F Marinos
Jubilo Iwata 4-0 Omiya Ardija
Vissel Kobe 1-2 Kashima Antlers
Kashiwa Reysol 2-0 Albirex Niigata
FC Tokyo 1-1 Urawa Reds


J2 results (matchday 16)
Kyoto Sanga 1-0 Giravanz Kitakyushu
Thespa Kusatsu 0-0 Matsumoto Yamaga
Gainare Tottori 2-5 Yokohama FC
Avispa Fukuoka 1-1 Fagiano Okayama
Oita Trinita 0-2 JEF United Chiba
Tochigi SC 3-2 Tokyo Verdy
Machida Zelvia 0-0 Mito HollyHock
Shonan Bellmare 0-0 Tokushima Vortis
Roasso Kumamoto 2-1 Montedio Yamagata
FC Gifu 0-3 Ventforet Kofu
Ehime FC 0-1 Kataller Toyama



International friendly
Japan 2
-0 Azerbaijan

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