Sunday 28 April 2013

Incredible Ardija thump Reysol to go top



The ever-astonishing Omiya Ardija moved on top of the J1 table and extended their record run of unbeaten matches to 19 with a 4-0 romp away to 2011 champions Kashiwa Reysol on Friday evening.

Fresh from a 1-1 draw with Guizhou Renhe of China that sealed their place in the last 16 of the AFC Champions League, the hosts started promisingly but found themselves frustrated by a solid Omiya defence which has only conceded five league goals all year.

The visitors built on this platform to open the scoring on 18 minutes. Cho Young-Cheol played a low cross for Milivoje Novaković to net first time with the side of his boot.

On his return from suspension, Shohei Takahashi scored from close range at the very end of the half to double the lead and, from that point, Ardija never looked back.

Nine minutes into the second period, Novaković played a beautiful pass through the finest of paths between the Kashiwa midfield and defence for Zlatan Ljubijankič, who was tripped by Hirofumi Watanabe to give Novaković a chance from the penalty spot.

The Slovenian converted with style, and the rout was complete soon afterwards when the ball broke for Cho to slot coolly past Takanori Sugeno.

Omiya’s place at the summit might only have lasted 24 hours, but Yokohama F Marinos conceded top spot with a 95th-minute equaliser for Ventforet Kofu at the Nissan Stadium.

After their surprise reverse at Albirex Niigata last week, Marinos looked back on form when Shunsuke Nakamura fired a 35-yard free kick through the narrow space between wall and far post to open the scoring on four minutes.

The hosts created a number of chances thereafter to extend their lead, but at just 1-0, Ventforet were always in contention and gradually took control as the game entered its closing stages.

A long throw from Koki Mizuno fell for Yukio Tsuichiya, whose shot was pushed onto the bar by Tetsuya Enomoto only to rebound back in off the head of Naoaki Aoyama. It was the Kofu defender’s first goal since joining from Marinos ahead of this season.

Urawa Reds were another to pay for their profligacy in front of goal as they slipped four points off the pace in third with a 1-0 home defeat to improving Shimizu S-Pulse.

Despite being on the back foot for most of the game, S-Pulse seized their opportunity on 64 minutes when Kota Sugiyama dispossessed Yuki Abe and Yosuke Kawai played a long ball forwards for Bare. The Brazilian held off the challenge of Ryota Moriwaki and slotted calmly past Nobuhiro Kato in the Urawa goal.

There was more misery for the home side with another Shimizu counterattack late on, as Abe was shown a straight red for a tug on Bare.

A brilliant, mukaiten goal from almost 40 yards by Gaku Shibasaki sent Kashima Antlers on their way to a 3-2 win in Niigata that takes them fourth, with Sanfrecce Hiroshima slipping to fifth despite recovering from their ACL elimination in Uzbekistan last Tuesday with a respectable 1-1 draw at Nagoya Grampus.

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Jubilo Iwata finally recorded their first league win of the season in spectacular fashion, trouncing Shonan Bellmare 4-0.

Hiroki Yamada smashed Iwata ahead in the opening minute to apparently spark a sudden resurgence of confidence to the side that had begun proceedings at the foot of the table with just two points from seven games.

Takuya Matsuura beat three players and finished with the outside of his foot to double the advantage, before combining with Ryoichi Maeda in a stylish one-touch move for Shuto Yamamoto to make it three. Ryohei Yamazaki’s spinning volley completed the scoring.

Oita Trinita are now at the foot of the table and remain winless after an entertaining but scoreless draw away to Cerezo Osaka.

The men in pink generally dominated proceedings with Yoichiro Kakitani particularly outstanding, but lacked a clinical touch up front and could have paid the ultimate price when Yasuhito Morishima and Takuya Marutani both hit the woodwork for Oita within the space of five second half seconds.

Elsewhere, FC Tokyo beat Kawasaki Frontale 2-0 in the Saturday evening game, while on Sunday, Vegalta Sendai played out a 1-1 draw with Sagan Tosu.


J2 HIGHLIGHTS
Fagiano Okayama pulled off one of the most incredible comebacks in J. League history to steal a point away to leaders Vissel Kobe. The hosts raced out of the traps with a first half brace from Yuzo Tashiro either side of Kyohei Sugiura’s penalty, and held onto their 3-0 advantage until the 84th minute. But late substitute Shingo Kukida netted a quickfire double to suddenly throw the momentum Okayama’s way, and an avalanche of pressure ended with a Tomoyuki Arata leveller in the final minute of added time.


J1 results (matchday 8)
Kashiwa Reysol 0-4 Omiya Ardija
Albirex Niigata 2-3 Kashima Antlers
Nagoya Grampus 1-1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Cerezo Osaka 0-0 Oita Trinita
Yokohama F Marinos 1-1 Ventforet Kofu
Jubilo Iwata 4-0 Shonan Bellmare
Urawa Reds 0-1 Shimizu S-Pulse
FC Tokyo 2-0 Kawasaki Frontale
Vegalta Sendai 1-1 Sagan Tosu


J2 results (matchday 11)
Consadole Sapporo 1-3 Roasso Kumamoto
Mito HollyHock 2-2 Yokohama FC
Thespakusatsu Gunma 4-1 Tokushima Vortis
FC Gifu 1-1 Montedio Yamagata
Kyoto Sanga 3-3 JEF United Chiba
Kataller Toyama 1-1 Tokyo Verdy
Gamba Osaka 1-1 Gainare Tottori
Vissel Kobe 3-3 Fagiano Okayama
Avispa Fukuoka 0-1 Matsumoto Yamaga
Giravanz Kitakyushu 0-2 Tochigi SC
Ehime FC vs. V-Varen Nagasaki (Monday, 2pm)

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Sunday 21 April 2013

Omiya Ardija win Saitama derby to go 18 unbeaten



Omiya Ardija beat Urawa Reds 1-0 in the Saitama derby to set a new J. League record of 18 matches without defeat.

A record NACK5 Stadium crowd of 13,016 people braved the rain for an early-season derby that pitted third against second, and the majority were not disappointed as Omiya pressed high up the pitch and quickly took control of the game.

Yosuke Kataoka hit the bar with a powerful left-footed shot early on, while Zlatan Ljubijankič saw his headed effort strike the post.

The hosts were unable to underline their superiority with many other clear-cut chances, but the game turned in first-half stoppage time when Urawa defender Daisuke Nasu was forced off the pitch after sustaining a bloody nose in a clash of heads with Ardija’s Slovenian forward.

Omiya took advantage of their temporary numerical superiority to score with the final touch of the half. Takumi Shimohira lofted the ball over Ryota Moriwaki for Daigo Watanabe to send in a low cross and Ljubijankič applied the finish.

The balance of play was reversed after the interval, with Urawa dominating possession and steadily forcing their neighbours backwards, but Omiya kept their shape and defended well to once again demonstrate the adaptability that has made them so difficult to beat.

It was a 1-1 draw away to Urawa on 1 September last year that kicked off an 11-game unbeaten run at the end of the season for Omiya to avoid relegation, and Saturday’s victory now leaves them as the only J1 side not to lose any of their first seven matches this term.

The Squirrels leapfrog their rivals into second in the table and just one point behind Yokohama F Marinos after the leaders saw their 100% record destroyed with a shock 1-0 defeat at lowly Albirex Niigata.

Two substitutes combined for Niigata to steal victory in a game of few chances with 12 minutes remaining. Kengo Kawamata sent a through ball into the path of Hideya Okamoto, who feinted to step off both Dutra and Yuji Nakazawa, before firing a powerful shot above the heads of both defenders plus goalkeeper Tetsuya Enomoto.

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At the lower end of the table, Kanagawa rivals Kawasaki Frontale and Shonan Bellmare both finally achieved their first league wins of the season at the seventh attempt, but Oita Trinita and Jubilo Iwata still await theirs and have become cast adrift at the bottom on just two points apiece.

Renato inspired a brilliant first half for Kawasaki at home to Vegalta Sendai, running 60 yards to set up the returning Yoshito Okubo for the first before netting two himself – a low penalty kick then a left-footed rocket from well outside the area. Yahiro Kazama’s men ultimately ran out 4-2 winners with Okubo scoring again in the second period.

Shonan were deserving 2-1 victors over Oita, while Jubilo Iwata’s misery continued with a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of defending champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Despite a determined effort, the writing was on the wall for Iwata when veteran former Japan goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi miskicked the ball into the path of Hisato Sato for an easy opener after just five minutes.

Elsewhere, Kashiwa Reysol warmed up for the likely confirmation of their place in the last 16 of the AFC Champions League with a comfortable 3-0 win away to Sagan Tosu.

Joshua Kennedy scored the opening goal on his first start of the season for Nagoya Grampus away to FC Tokyo, but two penalties from Lucas helped the hosts turn things round to win 3-1, ending a run of four straight losses.

Shimizu S-Pulse drew 1-1 with Cerezo Osaka, while Kashima Antlers recorded 23 shots but couldn’t break the deadlock in a 0-0 draw with Ventforet Kofu despite the forward presence of Davi, whose goals helped Kofu achieve promotion last season.


J2 HIGHLIGHTS
Vissel Kobe had a late header from veteran forward Takayuki Yoshida to thank for a 2-1 victory away to Yokohama FC which maintains their five-point lead at the top of the division. Gamba Osaka are second after both they and striker Leandro finally rediscovered their explosive powers in front of goal with a 4-0 rout away to Kataller Toyama – the Brazilian scoring a hat-trick to double his tally for the season.


J1 results (matchday 7)
Kawasaki Frontale 4-2 Vegalta Sendai
Shimizu S-Pulse 1-1 Cerezo Osaka
FC Tokyo 3-1 Nagoya Grampus
Sagan Tosu 0-3 Kashiwa Reysol
Jubilo Iwata 0-2 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Omiya Ardija 1-0 Urawa Reds
Shonan Bellmare 2-1 Oita Trinita
Kashima Antlers 0-0 Ventforet Kofu
Albirex Niigata 1-0 Yokohama F Marinos


J2 results (matchday 10)
Montedio Yamagata 1-0 Roasso Kumamoto
Tochigi SC 2-0 FC Gifu
Fagiano Okayama 2-0 Thespakusatsu Gunma
Giravanz Kitakyushu 0-2 Mito HollyHock
V-Varen Nagasaki 0-0 Consadole Sapporo
Kyoto Sanga 3-0 Gainare Tottori
Matsumoto Yamaga P-P Tokyo Verdy
JEF United Chiba 1-1 Avispa Fukuoka
Yokohama FC 1-2 Vissel Kobe
Kataller Toyama 0-4 Gamba Osaka
Tokushima Vortis 3-2 Ehime FC

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Sunday 14 April 2013

Kanazawa’s 50-yard stunner helps unbeaten Ardija equal J1 record



In an unlikely top-of-the-table battle on Saturday evening, a stunning goal by Shin Kanazawa sent Omiya Ardija on their way to a 2-1 victory away to Cerezo Osaka which extends their unbeaten run to a joint J1 record of 17 league matches.

With just 28 seconds on the clock, the Squirrels midfielder picked up a mishit clearance from Takahiro Ogihara and, spotting Kim Jin-Hyeon off his line, sent the ball in a perfect trajectory over the goalkeeper’s head from just inside the Cerezo half.

Ogihara made up for his early error just before the interval with a lovely chipped ball over the Omiya defensive line, allowing Yoichiro Kakitani to run through and net his fourth of the season with a typically cool finish.

The match then looked to have swung decisively in the hosts’ favour midway through the second period when Ardija defender Shohei Takahashi was harshly booked for a tug on Edno, then talked himself into an early bath with his angry protestations to referee Koichiro Fukushima.

But Zdenko Verdenik’s men held on and got their reward with five minutes remaining. Daisuke Watabe headed down a long clearance into the path of Slovenian striker Zlatan Ljubijankič, who knocked the ball over the head of Teruyuki Moniwa with his right foot before volleying it home from a tight angle with his left.

Omiya’s unbeaten sequence equals the record set by Kashima Antlers in 2009.

There was a new mark set in Kanagawa as Yokohama F Marinos beat neighbours Kawasaki Frontale 2-1 to become the first team to win their opening six league matches since the abolition of the two-stage season in 2005.

Seitaro Tomisawa opened the scoring for Marinos shortly before half time with a near-post header from Shunsuke Nakamura’s corner, but the latter was culpable for the Kawasaki equaliser and fortunate not to be sent off in the process.

Nakamura strayed from his post at a Renato corner, allowing Yusuke Tanaka the room to head Frontale level despite the desperate efforts of the former Celtic midfielder to punch the ball clear.

Yokohama had every reason to be thankful when their late winner came from another Nakamura corner, with substitute Jin Hanato firing through a crowd of players to keep the leaders two points clear at the top.

Kashima are up to fifth after an entertaining 3-2 victory away to Oita Trinita, who remain rooted to the bottom on just two points.

The hosts started well and led through Daiki Takamatsu’s fine effort from a tight angle, but Gaku Shibasaki’s quick shot from 25 yards put Antlers level before Takuya Nozawa converted a trademark free kick to register his first goal since returning from a year away at Vissel Kobe.

Yasuhito Morishima levelled things up again for Oita, only for Yuya Osako to come off the bench and win it for the visitors in the dying moments.

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Shimizu S-Pulse look to have put their defensively disastrous start to the season behind them after a 1-0 derby success at home to winless Jubilo Iwata made it three clean sheets in a row.

Jubilo started well and could have led when Ryoichi Maeda hit the crossbar, but their profligacy was to cost them when Daisuke Muramatsu headed the winner from Calvin Jong-a-Pin’s cross with ten minutes left on the clock.

Elsewhere, two excellent goals from Kensuke Fukuda and Hugo inside the opening 11 minutes kicked off a wonderful all-round performance for Ventforet Kofu as they beat Kashiwa Reysol 3-1.

Makoto Kakuda scored on his first appearance of the season to help Vegalta Sendai to a 2-1 victory over FC Tokyo, while Keiji Tamada marked his 300th J. League game by netting a penalty as Nagoya Grampus beat Albirex Niigata 2-0.

In Sunday’s matches, Urawa Reds enjoyed a straightforward 2-0 win against Shonan Bellmare, while a second-half brace from Hisato Sato allowed Sanfrecce Hiroshima to emerge as victors by the same scoreline at home to Sagan Tosu. It was the reigning champions’ first home win of 2013.


J2 HIGHLIGHTS
J. League debutants V-Varen Nagasaki moved up to fourth in the table after a 1-0 home win over Roasso Kumamoto. The champions of the third-tier Japan Football League have quickly overcome their initial struggles to record 13 points from their last five games, and only trail unbeaten Gamba Osaka and Fagiano Okayama on goal difference. Vissel Kobe are five points clear at the top despite their goalless draw at Kataller Toyama.


J1 results (matchday 6)
Ventforet Kofu 3-1 Kashiwa Reysol
Vegalta Sendai 2-1 FC Tokyo
Yokohama F Marinos 2-1 Kawasaki Frontale
Nagoya Grampus 2-0 Albirex Niigata
Oita Trinita 2-3 Kashima Antlers
Shimizu S-Pulse 1-0 Jubilo Iwata
Cerezo Osaka 1-2 Omiya Ardija
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-0 Sagan Tosu
Urawa Reds 2-0 Shonan Bellmare


J2 results (matchday 8)
Consadole Sapporo 2-1 Tokushima Vortis
Montedio Yamagata 0-1 Gamba Osaka
Tochigi SC 0-1 Mito HollyHock
Matsumoto Yamaga 1-2 FC Gifu
V-Varen Nagasaki 1-0 Roasso Kumamoto
JEF United Chiba 0-0 Fagiano Okayama
Tokyo Verdy 3-0 Gainare Tottori
Kataller Toyama 0-0 Vissel Kobe
Kyoto Sanga 0-1 Yokohama FC
Avispa Fukuoka 2-1 Giravanz Kitakyushu
Ehime FC L-L Thespakusatsu Gunma

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Sunday 07 April 2013

Marinos the rain masters as leaders make it five in a row



Not even heavy rain, strong winds, and the reigning J. League champions were enough to stop Yokohama F Marinos as Yasuhiro Higuchi’s men underlined their title credentials with a 3-1 victory away to Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

With the hosts struggling to string together their usual passing game on a soaking wet pitch, it was Marinos who seized the initiative and finally forced their way in front three minutes before half time. As the Sanfrecce defence retreated deep into their own area, Mihael Mikić’s clearance only found its way to an unmarked Seitaro Tomisawa who rifled a terrific shot into the top corner from almost 30 yards.

Returning from injury, Yojiro Takahagi levelled for Hiroshima soon after the restart after Satoru Yamagishi’s cross was headed down invitingly by Naoki Ishihara.

But the visitors remained on the front foot and went 2-1 up when Kosuke Nakamachi broke through a congested penalty area from the left-hand side, playing a one-two with Shingo Hyodo before beating Shusaku Nishikawa at his near post.

The points and a fifth straight win were secured with ten minutes remaining when Dutra’s speculative shot slipped out of Nishikawa’s palms into the path of Marquinhos for an easy finish.

Urawa Reds will have to break a six-year jinx in order to avoid relegation after falling victim to Ryoichi Maeda’s first league goal of the season, but their prospects look good after coming from behind to beat Jubilo Iwata 2-1.

From Ventforet Kofu in 2007 to Gamba Osaka last year, the team on the receiving end when the Japan forward opens his account have always started the following campaign in J2, and after Shinzo Koroki saw his early penalty saved, Maeda took advantage of a moment’s hesitation from Ryota Moriwaki at the other end to put Iwata in front.

However, a dominant Urawa eventually forced their way level on 77 minutes when Moriwaki, celebrating his 27th birthday, headed home a corner from Marcio Richardes.

Then, two minutes into added time, Koroki’s pressing allowed Genki Haraguchi to steal possession and knock the ball over Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi to maintain Reds’ grip on second place – two points behind Marinos.

Their Saitama neighbours, Omiya Ardija, are now up to third after a 1-0 victory away to FC Tokyo extended the unbeaten run that originally saved them from the drop last year to an incredible 16 league matches.

Slovenian forward Zlatan Ljubijankič was the hero when he got his head to a free kick from Takumi Shimohira which Tokyo ’keeper Shuichi Gonda had failed to claim.

Cerezo Osaka slip to fourth after surrendering their unbeaten record in a 1-0 defeat at Kashima Antlers. Kim Jin-Hyeon’s attempts to dribble the ball out of goal ended in embarrassment as Davi stole in to leave an open net for Yasushi Endo.

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The first two champions of this decade, Nagoya Grampus and Kashiwa Reysol, remain rooted in a congested mid-table after sharing six goals in a thrilling battle at Hitachidai.

Grampus opened the scoring on just three minutes when Teruki Tanaka was left completed unmarked to head in a Taishi Taguchi corner, but Reysol were level almost immediately as Junya Tanaka crossed for Masato Kudo.

The home side were looking good and turned things around through Leandro Domingues after Kudo’s initial effort had been blocked by Yuki Honda, but the momentum swung suddenly at the end of the half when Kashiwa midfielder Ryoichi Kurisawa saw red for a second bookable offence.

Takahiro Masukawa promptly headed Nagoya back level, but Nelsinho Baptista’s side weren’t lying down and Kudo weaved between two defenders to put the ten men in front once again.

It took a 71st minute equaliser from Keiji Tamada to save a point for Grampus, who sit fifth but fully seven points off the pace.

Elsewhere, there were celebrations for Albirex Niigata, Shimizu S-Pulse, and Ventforet Kofu as all three won 1-0 away from home to record their first three points of 2013.

Sho Naruoka’s first goal since joining Niigata from Avispa Fukuoka was enough to shock last season’s runners-up Vegalta Sendai, while Shimizu forward Bare held off three defenders to register his first strike away to Sagan Tosu. Yukio Tsuchiya’s header sealed Kofu the win at bottom club Oita Trinita.

Kanagawa rivals Shonan Bellmare and Kawasaki Frontale remain winless after their 1-1 draw at the Hiratsuka Stadium.


J2 HIGHLIGHTS
Vissel Kobe moved five points clear at the top after Ryo Okui’s solitary strike sealed victory over Montedio Yamagata, who fall from second to fourth. Fagiano Okayama maintained their unbeaten run with a 3-2 win over Consadole Sapporo to go second, while JEF United Chiba are now third after winning 2-0 at Thespakusatsu Gunma.


J1 results (matchday 5)
Vegalta Sendai 0-1 Albirex Niigata
FC Tokyo 0-1 Omiya Ardija
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-3 Yokohama F Marinos
Sagan Tosu 0-1 Shimizu S-Pulse
Oita Trinita 0-1 Ventforet Kofu
Kashima Antlers 1-0 Cerezo Osaka
Kashiwa Reysol 3-3 Nagoya Grampus
Shonan Bellmare 1-1 Kawasaki Frontale
Urawa Reds 2-1 Jubilo Iwata


J2 results (matchday 7)
Thespakusatsu Gunma 0-2 JEF United Chiba
FC Gifu 0-3 Kyoto Sanga
Gainare Tottori 0-0 Avispa Fukuoka
Fagiano Okayama 3-2 Consadole Sapporo
Tokushima Vortis 1-2 V-Varen Nagasaki
Gamba Osaka 0-0 Tokyo Verdy
Mito HollyHock 1-2 Matsumoto Yamaga
Yokohama FC 0-0 Roasso Kumamoto
Kataller Toyama 1-2 Tochigi SC
Vissel Kobe 1-0 Montedio Yamagata
Giravanz Kitakyushu 1-0 Ehime FC

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