Monday 20 August 2012

Sato stars as Sanfrecce storm clear



J1 leading scorer Hisato Sato was once again the hero as Sanfrecce Hiroshima opened up a four-point lead at the head of the division after winning 2-0 away to Albirex Niigata.

With the two sides immediately below them, Vegalta Sendai and Kashiwa Reysol, drawing a blank in their meeting at the Yurtec Stadium, Hajime Moriyasu’s side took advantage and forced their way in front midway through the opening period when Toshihiro Aoyama’s superb through ball bisected the Albirex back four for Sato to do what he does best – slotting home his 17th league goal of the campaign.

The 30-year-old then turned provider ten minutes into the second half when he ran around the outside of the home defence and cut the ball back to give Naoki Ishihara an easy finish.

New signing Neto Baiano made his first start for Kashiwa but fired wide with the best opportunity of a second-versus-third battle that failed to live up to expectations. Long-time leaders Sendai remain the closest challengers to Hiroshima, but are now without a win in seven competitive fixtures.

Urawa Reds moved up to third with a 2-1 victory over Kashima Antlers, while fifth-placed Yokohama F Marinos extended their unbeaten streak to a joint club record of 15 league matches but had to settle for a point after neighbours Kawasaki Frontale came back from two behind to draw 2-2 at the Nissan Stadium.

Jubilo Iwata put an end to their recent poor run with a thrilling 4-3 victory over struggling Cerezo Osaka.

First half equalisers from Olympic stars Hotaru Yamaguchi and Takahiro Ogihara cancelled out Jubilo goals from defenders Yoshiaki Fujita and Shunya Suganuma. Kempes’s header then looked set to earn a crucial three points for Cerezo until Ryoichi Maeda struck twice in the final eight minutes to round off a dramatic evening at the Yamaha Stadium.

The win takes Iwata up to sixth, ahead of Sagan Tosu and neighbours Shimizu S-Pulse on goal difference after a first professional goal for Daisuke Muramatsu gave Afshin Ghotbi’s men a 1-0 win in Kyushu.

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Relegation-threatened Gamba Osaka ruined the 20th anniversary celebrations for Nagoya Grampus with one of the most astonishing J. League results in recent seasons – winning 5-0 away at the Toyota Stadium.

Leandro gave Gamba the lead on 38 minutes but the match turned decisively shortly afterwards when Takahiro Masukawa was dismissed – perhaps harshly – for a tug on Akihiro Sato in the penalty area.

Yasuhito Endo converted from the spot in typically languid style, before setting the visitors up for a rampant second half when his cross found the head of Yasuyuki Konno at the far post to make the score 3-0.

Sato backheeled the tenth goal of his debut top flight season shortly afterwards, before substitute Paulinho completed the scoring with a late tap-in.

The result brings Gamba to within two points of safety, and might have taken them out of the bottom three altogether had it not been for another impressive away victory for Omiya Ardija at FC Tokyo. Zdenko Verdenik’s side defended stoically before his Slovenian compatriat Milivoje Novaković netted the game’s only goal; his first since joining on loan from 1. FC Köln.

Elsewhere, Consadole Sapporo fought back from two behind at home to Vissel Kobe but late strikes from Takuya Nozawa and Ken Tokura eventually condemned them to a 4-2 defeat.


TALKING POINTS
- Japan played out an unconvincing 1-1 friendly draw with Venezuela in Sapporo last Wednesday. Yasuhito Endo’s first half strike was cancelled out by Nicolas Fedor, with Shinji Kagawa missing an open goal days before his likely competitive debut for Manchester United away to Everton tonight.
- Ventforet Kofu’s lead over Kyoto Sanga at the top of J2 was cut to two points as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Kataller Toyama.


J1 results (matchday 22)
Consadole Sapporo 2-4 Vissel Kobe
FC Tokyo 0-1 Omiya Ardija
Vegalta Sendai 0-0 Kashiwa Reysol
Urawa Reds 2-1 Kashima Antlers
Yokohama F Marinos 2-2 Kawasaki Frontale
Albirex Niigata 0-2 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Jubilo Iwata 4-3 Cerezo Osaka
Nagoya Grampus 0-5 Gamba Osaka
Sagan Tosu 0-1 Shimizu S-Pulse


J2 results (matchday 28)
Tochigi SC 0-0 Thespa Kusatsu
Machida Zelvia 1-0 Tokushima Vortis
Matsumoto Yamaga 0-0 Roasso Kumamoto
Gainare Tottori 2-1 JEF United Chiba
Giravanz Kitakyushu 4-2 Avispa Fukuoka
Shonan Bellmare 1-1 Tokyo Verdy
Mito HollyHock 2-1 Oita Trinita
FC Gifu 1-2 Fagiano Okayama
Kyoto Sanga 2-1 Yokohama FC
Ehime FC 1-2 Montedio Yamagata
Kataller Toyama 1-1 Ventforet Kofu

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