Tuesday 17 July 2012

Quick-fire Hiroshima edge into top spot while Kashiwa win crazy eight-goal thriller

Sanfrecce Hiroshima stand atop the J. League table for the first time in over ten years after overhauling Vegalta Sendai on goals scored thanks to a 3-0 thrashing of Kawasaki Frontale on Saturday.

While the long-time leaders were still reasonably satisfied with a scoreless draw from their tough away fixture at Nagoya Grampus, Hajime Moriyasu’s side made easy work of the opportunity to pull level on points, netting all three goals within the first 19 minutes.

The opener from Kohei Shimizu was a real belter – volleying a Yojiro Takahagi corner directly into the opposite side of the net from just to the right of the D.

Kawasaki goalkeeper Yohei Nishibe then miscontrolled a backpass from Yusuke Igawa to allow Hisato Sato to steal in and move to second in the all-time J. League scorers’ list with 158 career goals, one ahead of Masashi ‘Gon’ Nakayama.

Sato headed another shortly afterwards to increase his seasonal tally to 14 – a clear six ahead of his closest rivals.

Third-placed Urawa Reds extended their unbeaten run to nine but are now five points behind the top two after drawing a blank away to improving Albirex Niigata.

Yuichi Komano corners found the head of Cho Byung-Kuk twice and Rodrigo Souto once for the Japan full-back to register three assists in fourth-placed Jubilo Iwata’s 4-1 drubbing of Consadole Sapporo – who have now lost 16 of their 18 league matches this season.

Tozin struck late for Sagan Tosu to seal a 1-0 win over FC Tokyo, while Shintaro Shimizu and Daisuke Watabe both notched their first ever J. League goals as Omiya Ardija drew 2-2 with Vissel Kobe.

Just six points now cover 11 teams, from Urawa in third all the way down to Kobe in 13th.


Defending champions Kashiwa Reysol moved back up to fifth, just six points behind Hiroshima, after emerging victorious from an astonishing eight-goal thriller at Shimizu S-Pulse that featured three penalties and as many sendings off.

Shinji Ono missed the opportunity to finally register the hosts’ 1,000th J. League goal when his penalty flew wide of the post after Daisuke Nasu had been harshly penalised for handball.

He was made to pay when Leandro Domingues gave Kashiwa the lead from the spot on 33 minutes, following another handball by Keisuke Iwashita, but yet another penalty moments later allowed Genki Omae to hit the milestone goal for S-Pulse and restore parity.

Iwashita then saw red on half time for a late challenge on Masakatsu Sawa, but Naohiro Takahara’s twisting header put Shimizu in front eight minutes after the restart and Leandro’s carelessness in possession allowed Alex Brosque to race in and make the score 3-1.

An altercation on the touchline then reduced the numbers to nine versus ten as both Yutaka Yoshida and Jorge Wagner were dismissed with a quarter of the game remaining. Masato Kudo then pulled one back for Kashiwa to set up a dramatic climax.

With two minutes left on the clock, Nasu’s dangerous cross was palmed onto the crossbar by Akihiro Hayashi, only to drop perfectly for Wataru Hashimoto to head the equaliser into the empty net from point-blank range.

Deep into injury time, Koki Mizuno forced Reysol in front when the home defence failed to properly clear their counter attack, and Kudo rounded off a fine passing move to seal the points at 5-3.

Elsewhere, Gamba Osaka looked to have rescued a point at home to Yokohama F Marinos when Paulinho levelled the scores three minutes from time, but Manabu Saito hit a last-gasp winner following excellent work from the former Gamba striker Masashi Oguro.

The 2005 champions’ best chance of avoiding relegation could well be local rivals Cerezo Osaka, who are now six points ahead of Gamba and just two above Niigata in 15th position after losing 1-0 at home to Kashima Antlers.

- The top six teams in J2 are separated by just two points, with JEF United Chiba leading the way on goal difference after winning 1-0 at Yokohama FC.
- Alessandro del Piero will play in a charity match at the Kashima Stadium next Saturday to support the ongoing recovery efforts from the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March last year. The game pits a Team as One side of players from the Tohoku region affected by the disaster against a fan-chosen selection of J. League stars.

J1 results (matchday 18)
Shimizu S-Pulse 3-5 Kashiwa Reysol
Omiya Ardija 2-2 Vissel Kobe
Albirex Niigata 0-0 Urawa Reds
Jubilo Iwata 4-1 Consadole Sapporo
Nagoya Grampus 0-0 Vegalta Sendai
Gamba Osaka 1-2 Yokohama F Marinos
Cerezo Osaka 0-1 Kashima Antlers
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 3-0 Kawasaki Frontale
Sagan Tosu 1-0 FC Tokyo

J2 results (matchday 24)
Tochigi SC 1-0 Machida Zelvia
Tokyo Verdy 1-0 Gainare Tottori
Yokohama FC 0-1 JEF United Chiba
Ventforet Kofu 2-1 Matsumoto Yamaga
Giravanz Kitakyushu 0-1 Thespa Kusatsu
Oita Trinita 1-4 Shonan Bellmare
Montedio Yamagata 3-1 Avispa Fukuoka
FC Gifu 2-2 Kataller Toyama
Fagiano Okayama 0-0 Tokushima Vortis
Ehime FC 1-1 Mito HollyHock
Roasso Kumamoto 0-1 Kyoto Sanga

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