Monday 18 October 2010

Albirex stun Grampus to keep title race alive



J1 leaders Nagoya Grampus passed up an opportunity to go eleven points clear with just eight games remaining as they suffered a shock 4-1 defeat away to Albirex Niigata yesterday evening.

Brazilian talisman Marcio Richardes marked his return from a thigh injury that had caused him to miss four matches - during which Albirex had only mustered one point - with a superb free-kick on the half hour, only for the division’s top scorer, Joshua Kennedy, to equalise for Grampus just three minutes later. However, the home side regained the initiative in rapid-fire fashion as Yuta Mikado and Hideo Oshima scored a goal apiece immediately before the interval to secure a 3-1 first half lead.

Any hopes their shell-shocked opponents had of staging a recovery were dashed just eight minutes after the restart when midfielder Naoshi Nakamura was sent off for a second cautionable offence. Richardes took advantage to seal victory and a fine individual performance with his second goal late on.

The blow to Nagoya’s title charge was at least softened by yet more poor results for their closest challengers. Second place Kashima Antlers are now eight points behind after conceding a 95th-minute equaliser to Yoshiro Abe of bottom club Shonan Bellmare, with Cerezo Osaka down to fourth and a further two points back after a 2-0 loss at resurgent Urawa Reds.

Gamba Osaka returned to third position, behind Kashima on goal difference, after a 5-1 victory over ten-man Omiya Ardija. The Squirrels led early on through Yuki Fukaya but lost defensive rock Mato Neretljak to a straight red card after just 19 minutes, allowing Gamba to recover their rhythm with two goals each from Lee Keun-Ho and Shoki Hirai plus a fine solo effort from 18-year-old Takashi Usami.

Kawasaki Frontale are now level on points with Cerezo in fifth following a straightforward 2-0 home win over Montedio Yamagata, with Yokohama F Marinos up to sixth after 17-year-old striker Yuji Ono became the club’s youngest ever scorer in a 1-0 victory over struggling Vissel Kobe. Shimizu S-Pulse slip to seventh after only drawing at home to Kyoto Sanga - a result that extends the Shizuoka club’s winless run to seven games in all competitions.

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Last season’s J2 champions Vegalta Sendai were the big winners at the bottom after a dramatic turnaround in their home game against fellow relegation battlers FC Tokyo. Goals from one-time Japan forwards Masashi Oguro and Sota Hirayama - either side of Ryang Yong-Gi’s equaliser - looked set to give the capital club a priceless three points until a horrible misjudgement by goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda allowed an Elizeu free-kick to sail straight in from 45 yards with four minutes remaining. Fernandinho then scored in stoppage time to take Vegalta seven points clear of the drop zone.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Jubilo Iwata drew 1-1 in their mid-table clash, which served as a dress rehearsal for next month’s Nabisco Cup final.


J1 results (matchday 26)
Shonan Bellmare 1-1 Kashima Antlers
Vegalta Sendai 3-2 FC Tokyo
Urawa Reds 2-0 Cerezo Osaka
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-1 Jubilo Iwata
Kawasaki Frontale 2-0 Montedio Yamagata
Gamba Osaka 5-1 Omiya Ardija
Shimizu S-Pulse 1-1 Kyoto Sanga
Yokohama F Marinos 1-0 Vissel Kobe
Albirex Niigata 4-1 Nagoya Grampus



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