Tuesday 16 August 2011

Champions Grampus go top for the first time this season



Nagoya Grampus and Gamba Osaka will play off for top spot in the J. League in their game in hand on Wednesday evening after both of the long-time top two suffered highly disappointing defeats over the O-Bon holiday weekend.

Having reclaimed first place in their summit battle with Yokohama F Marinos on matchday 20, Kashiwa Reysol were given the opportunity to extend their advantage when Kazushi Kimura’s side surprisingly slipped to a 2-0 defeat at Vissel Kobe on Saturday evening.

But Reysol went down to a humiliating 6-1 thrashing 24 hours later at bogey team Jubilo Iwata, who had previously burst the early Kashiwa bubble with a 3-0 win at the Hitachi Stadium back in June.

Brazilian midfielder Rodrigo Souto was the hero for Jubilo with two debut goals following his recent arrival from São Paulo, with Shuto Yamamoto, Yoshiaki Fujita, and free-scoring rookie Hidetaka Kanazono also finding the net. Leandro Domingues had struck a fine equaliser late in the first half, but a miserable evening for Nelsinho Baptista’s men was completed when the unfortunate Hiroki Sakai deflected the ball into his own goal four minutes from time.

The failings of their title rivals allowed defending champions Grampus to take over at the head of the table for the first time all season following a typically incisive 3-0 win away to fifth-placed Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Yoshizumi Ogawa combined well with Keiji Tamada and Joshua Kennedy to open the scoring midway through the first period, before the Australian pounced on a loose ball to double the lead on 39 minutes.

Kensuke Nagai netted his second in as many appearances just before full time to extend Nagoya’s recent unbeaten run to 15 league matches, including now seven consecutive wins.

Gamba moved into third position, two points behind Grampus and ahead of Marinos on goal difference, despite only drawing 1-1 in the third Osaka derby of 2011 away to Cerezo Osaka. Despite early Gamba domination it was the home side who opened the scoring on 76 minutes through Kim Bo-Kyung following good work from Shu Kurata and new Japan international Hiroshi Kiyotake, but Sota Nakazawa headed the visitors back level just three minutes later from Yasuhito Endo’s cross.

The results leave the top four fully eight points clear of the chasing pack.

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At the bottom, Masato Yamazaki struck his first and second goals since arriving on loan from Hiroshima to complete a 3-1 home victory for 17th-place Montedio Yamagata over 16th-place Ventforet Kofu. Paulinho had headed the away side in front shortly after the half hour mark, but Kazuya Maeda levelled just five minutes later to pave the way for Yamazaki’s second half intervention.

The win takes Yamagata to within two points of their defeated opponents, who have now lost four games in a row and remain six points adrift of safety.

Avispa Fukuoka came from behind to beat Kawasaki Frontale 2-1 – giving new manager Tetsuya Asano his first points since replacing Yoshiyuki Shinoda earlier this month. The match appeared to be going to form when Yu Kobayashi struck for the ninth time this season after 25 minutes, but Avispa roared back in the second half and were rewarded with two well-taken goals by Hisashi Jogo.

Elsewhere, Mitsuru Nagata scored on his old home ground to help Urawa Reds to a 3-2 win at Albirex Niigata despite the concession of two penalties. Kashima Antlers won 1-0 at Vegalta Sendai – who are now winless in nine – to leapfrog their opponents into the top half of the table, while Shimizu S-Pulse hammered Omiya Ardija 3-0.


TALKING POINTS
- The Japan national team enjoyed their biggest victory over fierce rivals South Korea in 37 years with a storming 3-0 friendly win in Sapporo last Wednesday. Shinji Kagawa scored twice on his first cap since suffering a broken metatarsal against the Koreans in January’s Asian Cup semi-final. Keisuke Honda also found the scoresheet, with Hiroshi Kiyotake registering two assists in an impressive debut as substitute.
- Takashi Usami made his competitive debut for Bayern Munich on Saturday, playing 24 minutes and helping the Bavarians to a dramatic 1-0 win at Makoto Hasebe’s VfL Wolfsburg.


J1 results (matchday 21)
Shimizu S-Pulse 3-0 Omiya Ardija
Vegalta Sendai 0-1 Kashima Antlers
Montedio Yamagata 3-1 Ventforet Kofu
Cerezo Osaka 1-1 Gamba Osaka
Vissel Kobe 2-0 Yokohama F Marinos
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0-3 Nagoya Grampus
Albirex Niigata 2-3 Urawa Reds
Jubilo Iwata 6-1 Kashiwa Reysol
Avispa Fukuoka 2-1 Kawasaki Frontale


International friendly result
Japan 3-0 South Korea

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