Tuesday 28 May 2013

Six of the best for Urawa but neighbours Omiya stay five clear over summer break

Urawa Reds were the headline-makers on the final round of J1 matches before the six-week-long summer hiatus, surging to a 6-2 rout away to 2011 champions Kashiwa Reysol on Sunday evening.

Genki Haraguchi exchanged passes with Shinzo Koroki before striking a confident shot across the Kashiwa goalkeeper Takenori Sugeno for Urawa’s opener on 17 minutes, before Yosuke Kashiwagi got on the end of a low ball across the six-yard box from Tsukasa Umesaki to double the advantage in first-half stoppage time.

It was Kashiwagi again who lit the blue touch paper for a rewarding second period with a direct free kick that curled over the Reysol wall and inside the near post to make it 3-0.

With the home defence advancing close to the halfway line, Koroki then took advantage to beat Hirofumi Watanabe and run in on goal, drawing Sugeno and squaring for Marcio Richardes to roll the ball into the empty net.

Despite two headed consolation efforts from Junya Tanaka and Naoya Kondo, Reds ensured they would have plenty of good memories to take into the mid-season break with further late strikes from Ryota Moriwaki and a second for Richardes.

The huge win had little bearing on the top of the table, however, as the supposedly smaller Saitama side Omiya Ardija held onto their five-point lead at the summit with an easy 3-0 victory away to Ventforet Kofu.

Omiya’s task was rendered utterly straightforward after just two minutes when Kofu defender Masaru Matsuhashi saw red for hauling down Zlatan Ljubijankič in the 18-yard area. Their other Slovenian forward, Milivoje Novaković, took advantage to convert the resulting penalty.

Shohei Takahashi diverted a Takumi Shimohira free kick into the path of Kosuke Kikuchi for the second, before Novaković played a 1-2 on the right flank with Daigo Watanabe to complete the scoring just before half time with a sumptuous volley over the goalkeeper from the corner of the penalty area.

A solitary header from Seitaro Tomisawa was enough for Yokohama F Marinos to remain one point ahead of Urawa in second with a 1-0 win at struggling Sagan Tosu, with Kashima Antlers still in fourth after coming back from two down to beat FC Tokyo by the odd goal in five.

Antlers got off to a nightmare start after just seven minutes when Daiki Iwamasa’s attempted clearance struck Tadanari Lee to leave the Japan forward clean through on goal for the opener. Kazuma Watanabe then doubled the lead with his ninth of the season shortly before half time.

But the hosts got a lifeline soon after the restart when Yuya Osako ran onto a Davi through ball and dinked it over Shuichi Gonda to pull one back, and they were level on 56 minutes after Yasushi Endo rounded the goalkeeper and saw his cutback bounce in off the unfortunate Jang Hyun-Soo.

It took a suicidal piece of defending from Sotan Tanabe, who had only been on the pitch for a matter of seconds, to decide the game in favour of Kashima soon afterwards. His dallying on the edge of the Tokyo box allowed Osako to steal in and slot through Gonda’s legs to make the final score 3-2.


Former Japan Olympic boss Takashi Sekizuka was present to watch his new Jubilo Iwata charges play out a 1-1 draw in their bottom-of-the-table clash away to Oita Trinita.

The 52-year-old, who was announced as the full-time replacement for Hitoshi Morishita last Monday but did not take full responsibility until after the Oita game, was given a sign of the work ahead of him when Daiki Takamatsu opened the scoring for the home side from Yasuhito Morishima’s pass.

But Iwata did at least earn a share of the spoils to keep them off the bottom on goal difference when Takuya Matsuura’s solo run inside from the left wing saw his effort strike the crossbar and rebound for Hiroki Yamada to equalise.

Elsewhere, Shonan Bellmare complete the bottom three after their 2-0 home loss to fifth-placed Sanfrecce Hiroshima, while Cerezo Osaka beat Nagoya Grampus 2-1 to leave Dragan Stojković’s men down in 14th.

Shimizu S-Pulse beat Vegalta Sendai 2-0 in their mid-table clash at Nihondaira, while Kawasaki Frontale edged Albirex Niigata 2-1.

The star draw of the division, Gamba Osaka, eked out a 2-1 win away to Ehime FC to go top for the first time all season after previous leaders Vissel Kobe went down to a shock home defeat against Gainare Tottori. The visitors had lost 6-0 at home to Montedio Yamagata the previous weekend but profited from the second half dismissal of Kobe defender Takuya Iwanami to defend the lead given to them earlier by Yuichi Kubo. Meanwhile, V-Varen Nagasaki are up to third in their debut J. League season following an impressive 2-1 victory over JEF United Chiba.

J1 results (matchday 13)
Shonan Bellmare 0-2 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Ventforet Kofu 0-3 Omiya Ardija
Shimizu S-Pulse 2-0 Vegalta Sendai
Kawasaki Frontale 2-1 Albirex Niigata
Sagan Tosu 0-1 Yokohama F Marinos
Oita Trinita 1-1 Jubilo Iwata
Kashima Antlers 3-2 FC Tokyo
Cerezo Osaka 2-1 Nagoya Grampus
Kashiwa Reysol 2-6 Urawa Reds

J2 results (matchday 16)
Consadole Sapporo 0-1 Mito HollyHock
Montedio Yamagata 1-2 Kyoto Sanga
Thespakusatsu Gunma 0-0 Giravanz Kitakyushu
Matsumoto Yamaga 3-0 Kataller Toyama
Tokushima Vortis 2-1 Tokyo Verdy
V-Varen Nagasaki 2-1 JEF United Chiba
Tochigi SC 0-0 Yokohama FC
Vissel Kobe 0-1 Gainare Tottori
Fagiano Okayama 2-3 Roasso Kumamoto
Avispa Fukuoka 2-1 FC Gifu
Ehime FC 1-2 Gamba Osaka

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Sunday 19 May 2013

Kashima record anniversary victory while Omiya move five clear

At the end of a week in which the J. League celebrated its 20th anniversary, Kashima Antlers hosted Nagoya Grampus in a repeat of perhaps the most famous fixture from the league’s opening weekend in 1993.

That match had seen the 40-year-old Zico completely overshadow Nagoya’s famous foreign signing, Gary Lineker, in scoring a brilliant hat-trick as Kashima ran out 5-0 victors.

The Brazilian was on the pitch again two decades later to greet the players of both sides ahead of Saturday afternoon’s game, before taking his place in the VIP seats to watch his old club complete a 3-1 victory despite falling behind to Yoshizumi Ogawa’s goal after 24 minutes.

Yasushi Endo cut inside past Marcus Tulio Tanaka and fired through a crowd of players to equalise for the home team just before the break, before second-half strikes from Atsutaka Nakamura and Yuya Osako sealed all three points.

Kashima remain the most successful club in Japanese professional football history with seven J. League titles, but surprise package Omiya Ardija are still the team to beat this season after moving five points clear at the top with a 2-1 win over Shonan Bellmare.

The Squirrels’ record 21-match unbeaten run finally came to an end with defeat at Vegalta Sendai last weekend, but they demonstrated their determination to bounce back after 15 minutes when Daigo Watanabe cut the ball across the penalty area for Zlatan Ljubijankič to backheel in the opener.

The Slovenian then hit the bar two minutes later, only for Shonan to counter and win a corner from which defender Kazunori Ono headed the visitors level.

It looked like being another frustrating afternoon for the J1 leaders until nine minutes from time, when Watanabe struck a low shot from inside the D to register his first goal of the season. Things got even better for Omiya with the news that Sendai had this week done them a favour, by holding second-place Yokohama F Marinos to a goalless draw at the Nissan Stadium.

The latter scoreline allowed Urawa Reds in third to close within a point of Marinos with a game in hand thanks to a 6-2 thumping of struggling Sagan Tosu later on Saturday evening.

A Yuki Abe penalty was all that divided the sides at half-time, while a see-saw second half left Tosu fighting for an equaliser at 3-2 with ten minutes to play.

But the home side took advantage of the space afforded them to slice their opponents open on the flanks three times in quick succession, as Genki Haraguchi, Daisuke Nasu, and late substitute Shinya Yajima each got on the end of crosses to make it half a dozen goals from as many scorers. Tomoaki Makino and Shinzo Koroki were the other Urawa players on the scoresheet.

Defending champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima enjoyed a similarly prolific afternoon to stay in touch with the leading pack thanks to a 5-1 drubbing of Ventforet Kofu.

Paraguayan international José Ortigoza gave Kofu a shock lead after just four minutes, but Hisato Sato levelled almost immediately with a shot that flew in off the underside of the bar – the first of three goals for the new J1 top scorer that afternoon.

Hiroki Mizumoto took the ball past Hideomi Yamamoto and scored with an excellent effort from outside the box to put Hiroshima in front before the interval, and the hosts never looked back in a second half during which they could have had a lot more but for the heroics of Ventforet goalkeeper Kohei Kawata.

In the end they settled for five – Sato completing his hat-trick to take him to nine for the season, before 18-year-old midfielder Gakuto Notsuda scored his first ever J. League goal four minutes from time.


Bottom team Oita Trinita finally sealed their first league win of the season at the 12th attempt, edging Albirex Niigata 3-2 in a tense encounter at the Big Swan.

The visitors looked set for heartbreak after leading twice against the run of play only to concede a 90th-minute equaliser to Brazilian midfielder Léo Silva – his first since joining Niigata from Portuguesa.

But there were still eight minutes of stoppage time to play following a collision of heads earlier in the second half between Kentaro Oi and Kim Kun-Hoan, which left both Albirex centre-backs requiring lengthy treatment and ultimately being carried off the pitch.

This left enough time for Oita forward Daiki Takamatsu to head the ball across for the onrunning defender Kohei Tokita, who smashed it home for a dramatic winner right at the death.

Elsewhere, Jubilo Iwata’s struggles continued with a 4-2 home defeat to Kawasaki Frontale. Cerezo Osaka beat Kashiwa Reysol 3-1 to register their first win in three, while FC Tokyo emerged as 2-0 victors over Shimizu S-Pulse.

There were thumping victories for both Montedio Yamagata and Gamba Osaka on Sunday afternoon, with the former racing to a 6-0 rout away to Gainare Tottori while Gamba were 5-1 winners at home to second-from-bottom Thespakusatsu Gunma. But Vissel Kobe remain three points clear at the top after beating Ehime FC 4-2 to make it 10 wins from 15 so far this season.

J1 results (matchday 12)
Kashima Antlers 3-1 Nagoya Grampus
Albirex Niigata 2-3 Oita Trinita
Jubilo Iwata 2-4 Kawasaki Frontale
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 5-1 Ventforet Kofu
Kashiwa Reysol 1-3 Cerezo Osaka
Yokohama F Marinos 0-0 Vegalta Sendai
Omiya Ardija 2-1 Shonan Bellmare
Urawa Reds 6-2 Sagan Tosu
FC Tokyo 2-0 Shimizu S-Pulse

J2 results (matchday 15)
Gainare Tottori 0-6 Montedio Yamagata
Fagiano Okayama 2-0 Tokushima Vortis
Ehime FC 2-4 Vissel Kobe
Roasso Kumamoto 1-4 Tochigi SC
V-Varen Nagasaki 0-1 Kyoto Sanga
Consadole Sapporo1 -1 Tokyo Verdy
Mito HollyHock 4-1 FC Gifu
JEF United Chiba 1-0 Matsumoto Yamaga
Kataller Toyama 1-2 Avispa Fukuoka
Gamba Osaka 5-1 Thespakusatsu Gunma
Giravanz Kitakyushu 1-1 Yokohama FC

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