Monday 29 August 2011

Reysol fightback maintains tightness in top four

Kashiwa Reysol came back from two goals behind in an astonishing second half to condemn Kawasaki Frontale to a club record seventh straight defeat and maintain their challenge for J. League title glory.

After a goalless opening period, Takuro Yajima opened the scoring for Kawasaki five minutes after the restart with a low 25-yard volley, before Juninho doubled the visitors’ advantage with a fine solo effort just four minutes later.

Having fallen three points off the pace with defeat at new leaders Gamba Osaka in midweek, Kashiwa could ill afford another setback, and the recovery effort began on the hour mark when Masato Kudo headed home a cross from left-back Wataru Hashimoto.

Junya Tanaka then skilfully trapped a long pass from Akimi Barada to fire the home side level on 73 minutes, before sending the crowd into raptures five minutes later with another composed finish from Hashimoto’s neat through ball.

Gamba retained their hold on top spot with a thumping 4-0 victory away to Kansai rivals Vissel Kobe, who had gone five games unbeaten going into the weekend.

In-form Brazilian marksman Rafinha turned provider for first Takuya Takei and then Kim Seung-Yong as the hosts struggled to live with the Osaka club’s fast passing game. Lee Keun-Ho and Takahiro Futagawa later found the net to add gloss to an impressive team performance.

Champions Nagoya Grampus overcame the concession of an early Mike Havenaar opener to remain one point behind in second following a comfortable 4-1 home win over Ventforet Kofu.

Keiji Tamada and Joshua Kennedy scored in quick succession to turn the match on its head, before Kofu defender Daniel was dismissed for violent conduct and Jungo Fujimoto scored from the resulting free kick on the stroke of half-time.

The former Shimizu S-Pulse midfielder collected a pass from Kennedy to complete the scoring midway through the second half.

Yokohama F Marinos slipped three points off the pace, ahead of Kashiwa on goal difference, with a goalless draw in Shimizu on Saturday.


Fourth-from-bottom Omiya Ardija finally recorded their first home win of the season at the twelfth attempt – deservedly beating Jubilo Iwata 2-0 to move seven points clear of Kofu in the final relegation position.

With the match still scoreless going into the final twenty minutes, Keigo Higashi expertly controlled a back header from Rafael to take two Iwata defenders out of the game on the turn, and fired the ball home past Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi.

Daigo Watanabe sealed the win soon afterwards with a perfectly placed side-footer from just outside the penalty area.

Omiya are now tied on 28 points with neighbours Urawa Reds, who conceded twice late on to lose 3-1 at Cerezo Osaka, and Albirex Niigata, who went down to a sole David Mujiri effort away to Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Montedio Yamagata fell eleven points adrift of safety with ten games to play after a 2-1 loss at Vegalta Sendai, while Avispa Fukuoka were thumped 6-0 by Kashima Antlers to go fully 16 points behind Omiya – four more than they have accumulated in 24 matches so far this season.

Yuzo Tashiro and Yasushi Endo each netted braces for Kashima, with defenders Daiki Iwamasa and Koji Nakata both finding the scoresheet as well to strengthen their grasp on fifth position – albeit still nine points behind the top four.

- Kawasaki Frontale midfielder Kengo Nakamura has been recalled to the Japan squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against North Korea and Uzbekistan. Urawa Reds forward Genki Haraguchi earns a first call-up, while Hiroshi Kiyotake retains his place after impressing in the recent friendly against South Korea.
- Shimizu S-Pulse have confirmed the surprise signing of former Arsenal and Sweden star Fredrik Ljungberg. The 34-year-old, whose former clubs also include Chicago Fire and Celtic, could be in line for a debut in the Shizuoka derby at Jubilo Iwata on 10 September.

J1 results (matchday 24)
Vegalta Sendai 2-1 Montedio Yamagata
Omiya Ardija 2-0 Jubilo Iwata
Shimizu S-Pulse 0-0 Yokohama F Marinos
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 Albirex Niigata
Kashiwa Reysol 3-2 Kawasaki Frontale
Cerezo Osaka 3-1 Urawa Reds
Vissel Kobe 0-4 Gamba Osaka
Kashima Antlers 6-0 Avispa Fukuoka
Nagoya Grampus 4-1 Ventforet Kofu

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