Monday 02 April 2012

Table-topping Sendai extend perfect record to four from four



Vegalta Sendai stand clear atop the J. League table after extending their 100% record to a fourth weekend with a 2-1 win away to Cerezo Osaka on Saturday.

Makoto Teguramori’s side survived an early scare when a Hiroshi Kiyotake volley struck their crossbar and opened the scoring themselves on 34 minutes. Wilson carried the ball along the left flank and laid it off for Shingo Akamine to attempt a shot through a crowd of defenders, which then rebounded kindly for the Brazilian to net his first goal since arriving from Shaanxi Chan-Ba of China over the winter.

More efficient counterattacking play brought Sendai their second shortly after the interval. Yoshiaki Ota beat two players and sent in a cross from the right that Hotaru Yamaguchi could only nod into the path of an unmarked Akamine, leaving goalkeeper Kim Jin-Kyeon in no-man’s land for the striker to convert with a simple header.

Cerezo battled hard to get back into the game but their only reward came in the form of a consolation strike from supersub Ryuji Bando five minutes from time.

Newly promoted Sagan Tosu provided the biggest victory and surprise of the weekend, thrashing big-spending Vissel Kobe 3-0 to move up to fifth position in their debut J1 season.

All three of their goals arrived via crosses from the right-hand side, with Kei Ikeda playing the ball across for the 24th-minute substitute Ryunosuke Noda to slide in at the far post for the opener within moments of his arrival. Last season’s 23-goal hero Yohei Toyoda converted in confident fashion just before the break, while Ikeda rounded off a fine performance with the third right on full time.

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Jubilo Iwata are in second place with 10 points from a possible 12 after a 1-0 win over defending champions Kashiwa Reysol, whose title defence has begun somewhat inauspiciously with just four points from as many matches.

Japan forward Ryoichi Maeda played Takuya Matsuura into space on the right flank, and continued his run towards the far post to divert a low return pass beyond Takanori Sugeno.

FC Tokyo suffered their first reverse since returning to the top flight with a 1-0 home loss to Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who join them on nine points to round off the top four. Mihael Mikić rolled a perfect low cross ahead of three opposing defenders for Hisato Sato to slot home the only goal after 56 minutes.

Jun Kanakubo cancelled out a glorious opener from Danilson to earn Omiya Ardija a creditable point at home to Nagoya Grampus, while neighbours Urawa Reds were left clinging on to draw 1-1 with Kawasaki Frontale after new signings Yuki Abe and Tomoaki Makino both saw red for two bookable offences in the second period.

Seven-times champions Kashima Antlers are still goalless but do at least now have their first point under Jorginho following a 0-0 draw at Yokohama F Marinos. They sit at the foot of the table on goal difference beneath Consadole Sapporo, who lost 1-0 away to Shimizu S-Pulse.

A 1-1 draw also brought first points of the season for both Albirex Niigata and Gamba Osaka. New Gamba boss Masanobu Matsunami expressed his satisfaction at the team’s performance in his first game in charge since replacing the hapless José Carlos Serrão last week.


TALKING POINTS
- Shinji Kagawa netted the first in a thrilling 4-4 draw for Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund at home to Gotoku Sakai’s VfB Stuttgart. His goal takes him to 12 league strikes for the season – a record for any Japanese player in a major European competition.
- Shonan Bellmare won 2-1 at Gainare Tottori to retain top spot in J2. Tokyo Verdy are three points back in second following their 2-1 victory away to new local rivals Machida Zelvia.


J1 results (matchday 4)
Omiya Ardija 1-1 Nagoya Grampus
FC Tokyo 0-1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Urawa Reds 1-1 Kawasaki Frontale
Jubilo Iwata 1-0 Kashiwa Reysol
Cerezo Osaka 1-2 Vegalta Sendai
Albirex Niigata 1-1 Gamba Osaka
Shimizu S-Pulse 1-0 Consadole Sapporo
Yokohama F Marinos 0-0 Kashima Antlers
Sagan Tosu 3-0 Vissel Kobe


J2 results (matchday 6)
Montedio Yamagata 0-0 Mito HollyHock
Tochigi SC 2-1 JEF United Chiba
Matsumoto Yamaga 0-3 Kataller Toyama
Kyoto Sanga 3-2 Avispa Fukuoka
Gainare Tottori 1-2 Shonan Bellmare
Roasso Kumamoto 3-0 FC Gifu
Thespa Kusatsu 1-1 Yokohama FC
Machida Zelvia 1-2 Tokyo Verdy
Ventforet Kofu 1-2 Giravanz Kitakyushu
Tokushima Vortis 1-2 Fagiano Okayama
Oita Trinita 1-0 Ehime FC

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