Monday 23 May 2011

Reysol stay top as struggling giants draw in Saitama



Urawa Reds came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Kashima Antlers at the Saitama Stadium on Saturday afternoon – a result that does little to lift either of the struggling giants away from the lower reaches of the J1 table.

Full-back Daigo Nishi opened the scoring with a deflected effort on 13 minutes, before Chikashi Masuda justified his selection ahead of the out-of-form Mitsuo Ogasawara by doubling the visitors’ advantage just past the hour mark.

But this prompted Reds manager Željko Petrović to introduce substitute midfielder Hiroyuki Takasaki, who immediately reversed the flow of the game with a powerful strike from just outside the Antlers’ penalty area. The home side were level just two minutes later; on-loan forward Mazola opening his J. League account from a tight angle at Hitoshi Sogahata’s near post.

The Brazilian was later sent off for a second yellow card, but too late in the day to affect a final scoreline that leaves Urawa third from bottom with only five points and Kashima just one place higher on goals scored – albeit with two games in hand.

Kashiwa Reysol remain the surprise table toppers after underlining the legitimacy of their spectacular return to J1 with a goalless draw at champions Nagoya Grampus. Vegalta Sendai, predecessors to Kashiwa as winners of J2 in 2009, are in second place after maintaining their unbeaten record with a 1-0 win at Montedio Yamagata on Sunday.

A Masashi Oguro brace completed a first half romp at the Nissan Stadium as Yokohama F Marinos eased into third with a 4-0 victory over Ventforet Kofu. Jubilo Iwata were another side to race into a four-goal lead, eventually winning 4-1 to move up to fifth and condemn hapless Avispa Fukuoka to a seventh straight defeat.

Vissel Kobe continued their impressive run of form with a 1-0 win at home to previously unbeaten Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Midfielder Hideo Tanaka, on as a replacement for the injured Masatoshi Mihara only moments previously, found space to accurately fire the game’s only goal in off Shusaku Nishikawa’s right-hand post from 25 yards.

With Kobe rising to fourth and Hiroshima now in sixth, not one of the current top six finished higher than seventh in the top flight last season.

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Cerezo Osaka warmed up for tomorrow’s Asian Champions League encounter at city rivals Gamba with a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Kawasaki Frontale. The visitors surged into a 2-0 half time lead through Koji Yamase and Takuro Yajima – thanks in part to an unconvincing display from goalkeeper Kim Jin-Hyun – but Cerezo fought back with two goals in as many minutes from Hiroshi Kiyotake and Rodrigo Pimpão.

Yu Kobayashi scored on the breakaway to restore the Frontale lead midway through the second half, but an own goal by the unfortunate Yusuke Tanaka secured a fifth consecutive league draw for the hosts.

Gamba required a late winner from J1 top scorer Adriano to maintain their 100% home record this season against Albirex Niigata. The Brazilian pounced to fire home his second of the evening after Masaaki Higashiguchi could only parry a shot from Takashi Usami. Adriano had earlier opened the scoring after just eight minutes, but Akira Nishino’s side were pegged back by Michael with a quarter of an hour remaining.

Elsewhere, Shimizu S-Pulse recovered from their humiliation at the hands of Vissel Kobe last weekend in fine style, with a 4-1 stroll away to Omiya Ardija.


TALKING POINTS
- The Osaka derby in the last 16 of the AFC Champions League kicks off at 7pm on Tuesday evening at Banpaku. The tie will be a single-legged affair, with extra time and penalties played if no winner is decided after 90 minutes.


J1 results (matchday 12)
Cerezo Osaka 3-3 Kawasaki Frontale
Jubilo Iwata 4-1 Avispa Fukuoka
Yokohama F Marinos 4-0 Ventforet Kofu
Urawa Reds 2-2 Kashima Antlers
Nagoya Grampus 0-0 Kashiwa Reysol
Gamba Osaka 2-1 Albirex Niigata
Vissel Kobe 1-0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Montedio Yamagata 0-1 Vegalta Sendai
Omiya Ardija 1-4 Shimizu S-Pulse

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