Monday 17 May 2010

Kagawa signs off in style

Shinji Kagawa rounded off an eventful week with a match-winning performance on his J. League farewell as Cerezo Osaka came from a goal behind to beat local rivals Vissel Kobe 2-1 on Saturday afternoon.

24 hours after the disappointment of missing out on Takeshi Okada’s squad of 23 for this summer’s World Cup last Monday, officials in Osaka announced that Kagawa will join German giants Borussia Dortmund this July in a permanent deal worth a reported 350,000 Euros. With the Japanese top flight now set for a two-month hiatus, a crowd of 17,001 supporters gathered at Nagai for the 21-year-old’s final appearance in the pink of Cerezo, and after Ryuji Bando had cancelled out Botti’s opener for the visitors, Kagawa fired home a precise free kick in first half stoppage time to sign off in perfect fashion.

There could even yet be a place in South Africa for the man of the moment as Kagawa was named amongst seven Japanese reserve members on Wednesday, alongside defenders Yuhei Tokunaga (FC Tokyo) and Tomoaki Makino (Sanfrecce Hiroshima); midfielders Mitsuo Ogasawara (Kashima Antlers) and Naohiro Ishikawa (FC Tokyo); and forwards Ryoichi Maeda (Jubilo Iwata) and Tatsuya Tanaka (Urawa Reds).


Shimizu S-Pulse will remain on top of the J1 table over the summer break, but their advantage was reduced by two points as FC Tokyo fought back to secure a dramatic 2-2 draw at the Ajinomoto Stadium. The league leaders were five minutes from victory when a spectacular strike from Japan full back Yuto Nagatomo - who has been attracting interest from Serie A side Bologna - reduced the deficit to one, before Toshihiro Matsushita equalised moments later to the delight of the packed home crowd.

Defending champions Kashima Antlers recorded a thumping 4-1 win at Nagoya Grampus to go four points off the top in third with a game in hand. Grampus are now three points behind S-Pulse, but managed to retain second place after Urawa Reds were held 1-1 at Vegalta Sendai and Kawasaki Frontale slipped to a surprise 3-1 defeat at Jubilo Iwata.

Elsewhere, Albirex Niigata beat Montedio Yamagata 3-1 to extend their run of consecutive wins to four and move up to seventh position, while Shoki Hirai celebrated his return from injury with two goals as Gamba Osaka secured victory by a similar margin at Shonan Bellmare. The J1 newcomers are now rooted to the bottom of the table on goal difference behind Kyoto Sanga, who drew 2-2 away to Yokohama F Marinos, and Omiya Ardija, who played out a goalless stalemate with Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

J1 results (matchday 12)
FC Tokyo 2-2 Shimizu S-Pulse
Albirex Niigata 3-1 Montedio Yamagata
Yokohama F Marinos 2-2 Kyoto Sanga
Vegalta Sendai 1-1 Urawa Reds
Cerezo Osaka 2-1 Vissel Kobe
Jubilo Iwata 3-1 Kawasaki Frontale
Omiya Ardija 0-0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Nagoya Grampus 1-4 Kashima Antlers
Shonan Bellmare 1-3 Gamba Osaka

AFC Champions League - Round of 16 results
Al-Gharafa (QAT) 1-0 Pakhtakor (UZB)
Al-Shabab (KSA) 3-2 Esteghal (IRN)
Zob Ahan (IRN) 1-0 Mes Kerman (IRN)
Al-Hilal (KSA) 3-0 Bunyodkor (UZB)
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (KOR) 3-0 Gamba Osaka
Suwon Samsung Bluewings (KOR) 2-0 Beijing Guoan (CHN)
Kashima Antlers 0-1 Pohang Steelers (KOR)
Adelaide United (AUS) 2-3 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR) (after extra time)

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