Monday 09 April 2012

Last gasp Vegalta retain hold on summit in clash of the top two



Vegalta Sendai lost their perfect start to the season but managed to hold onto top spot thanks to a late, late equaliser from Wilson in their topsy-turvy 2-2 draw with closest rivals Jubilo Iwata.

The league leaders exercised their home advantage to gradually take control of the game, and thought they had finally broken the deadlock early in the second half when Wilson converted from Shingo Akamine’s pinpoint pass, only to see the linesman’s flag raised for a narrow offside.

Incredibly, Iwata were the ones to open the scoring a few minutes later with their first attempt of the game. Minoru Suganuma was left unmarked at the far post to just about bundle a Hiroki Yamada cross over the line, via the post and Sendai goalkeeper Takuto Hayashi.

Vegalta finally found their way level with a quarter of an hour remaining through Kunimitsu Sekiguchi – a popular return to form for the 26-year-old after failing to register a single goal or assist in 2011 – and looked set to push for the win; only to fall behind again to Jubilo’s second shot on goal four minutes later. Kosuke Yamamoto took advantage of a standoffish defence to fire home from the D.

At this point, the home side appeared to lose their rhythm and entered the last of five added minutes without coming close to a second equaliser. But with seconds on the clock, Wilson expertly chested down a hopeful long ball from Naoki Sugai before somehow managing to turn and squeeze it home past Naoki Hatta.

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FC Tokyo overcame a second yellow card for Aria Jasuru Hasegawa – who was returning from a one-match ban after a similar sanction against Vissel Kobe a fortnight ago – to clinch a dramatic late win at Kawasaki Frontale and move within a point of the summit. Masato Morishige was the hero with a towering header from Naohiro Ishikawa’s corner.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima rose to second, ahead of FC Tokyo on goal difference, with a 4-1 victory over Gamba Osaka, who fall to second from bottom.

Jorginho only had to wait two minutes to finally see his Kashima Antlers notch their first league goal of the season against Urawa Reds, but their troubles continued as they conspired to fall behind just three minutes later. Shinzo Koroki’s early header was immediately cancelled out by Marcio Richardes, before Popo gave the away side the lead following brilliant work from Yuki Abe and Yosuke Kashiwagi.

Richardes netted from the spot later in the first half to seal a 3-1 Urawa win that keeps Kashima rooted to the bottom.

Cerezo Osaka needed a Hiroshi Kiyotake penalty to break down the hosts’ resistance in their game at Omiya Ardija, but demonstrated their fine attacking potential with two goals from Kim Bo-Kyung soon thereafter to win 3-0 and move up to fifth.

Elsewhere, champions Kashiwa Reysol won 2-0 at Consadole Sapporo to seal only their second three points of the season, while Nagoya Grampus had an outstanding performance from goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki to thank for a 1-0 home victory over newly-promoted Sagan Tosu.

A late Alex Brosque strike enabled Shimizu S-Pulse to edge past Vissel Kobe, while Yokohama F Marinos played out a second successive 0-0 draw – this time away to Albirex Niigata.


TALKING POINTS
- A 4-1 thrashing of the Brazil women’s team on Thursday sealed Kirin Challenge Cup success for Nadeshiko Japan – and a welcome boost ahead of the London Olympics.
- FC Tokyo, Nagoya Grampus, and Kashiwa Reysol are all in position to progress through from the AFC Champions League group stage at the halfway mark, while Gamba Osaka revived their chances with a 3-1 win over Uzbekistani outfit Bunyodkor.


J1 results (matchday 5)
Consadole Sapporo 0-2 Kashiwa Reysol
Vegalta Sendai 2-2 Jubilo Iwata
Nagoya Grampus 1-0 Sagan Tosu
Vissel Kobe 0-1 Shimizu S-Pulse
Albirex Niigata 0-0 Yokohama F Marinos
Omiya Ardija 0-3 Cerezo Osaka
Kashima Antlers 1-3 Urawa Reds
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4-1 Gamba Osaka
Kawasaki Frontale 0-1 FC Tokyo


J2 results (matchday 7)
Mito HollyHock 0-1 JEF United Chiba
Tochigi SC 2-0 Roasso Kumamoto
Tokyo Verdy 2-0 Tokushima Vortis
Fagiano Okayama 1-0 Matsumoto Yamaga
Ehime FC 4-2 Avispa Fukuoka
Giravanz Kitakyushu 1-0 Gainare Tottori
Yokohama FC 1-2 Montedio Yamagata
Shonan Bellmare 2-0 Machida Zelvia
Ventforet Kofu 1-0 Oita Trinita
Kataller Toyama 1-2 Thespa Kusatsu
FC Gifu 0-1 Kyoto Sanga


AFC Champions League group stage results (East Asia, matchday 3)
Group E
Gamba Osaka (JPN) 3-1 Bunyodkor (UZB)
Pohang Steelers (KOR) 1-0 Adelaide United (AUS)

Group F
Ulsan Hyundai (KOR) 1-1 Brisbane Roar (AUS)
Beijing Guoan (CHN) 1-1 FC Tokyo (JPN)

Group G
Central Coast Mariners (AUS) 1-1 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (KOR)
Tianjin Teda (CHN) 0-3 Nagoya Grampus (JPN)

Group H
Kashiwa Reysol (JPN) 0-0 Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN)
Buriram United (THA) 0-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR)


Yamazaki Nabisco Cup group stage results (matchday 2)
Group A
Vegalta Sendai 2-0 Sagan Tosu
Jubilo Iwata 4-3 Urawa Reds
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-1 Kawasaki Frontale

Group B
Kashima Antlers 1-0 Omiya Ardija
Shimizu S-Pulse 1-0 Albirex Niigata
Yokohama F Marinos 1-2 Consadole Sapporo

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