Monday 27 August 2012

Seven up for Gamba as Leandro fires Osakans out of the drop zone

Leandro scored a hat-trick to help Gamba Osaka climb out of the relegation zone for the first time all season with a 7-2 thumping of hapless Consadole Sapporo on Saturday evening.

The home side at Banpaku came out of the blocks quickly, taking the lead with their tenth goal attempt in just the 16th minute when top scorer Akihiro Sato got his head to a cross from Shu Kurata.

Takuma Hidaka then exposed Gamba’s continued defensive weakness with an immediate equaliser from Sapporo’s first opportunity, but Leandro took charge of proceedings with a spectacular volley to put the hosts back in front, before taking advantage of a poor defensive header to loft the ball over goalkeeper Tetsu Sugiyama for the third just before half time.

The Brazilian converted a Hiroki Fujiharu cross on 57 minutes to complete his hat-trick, taking him to six goals in just five appearances since returning to the club from Qatar, and after that point it was simply a matter of how many for Gamba. Yasuyuki Konno, a comedic own goal by Shunsuke Iwanuma, and Akihiro Ienaga took the tally to seven, with Shinya Uehara netting a consolation for Consadole.

However, the situation remains extremely tight at the bottom after fellow strugglers Cerezo Osaka inflicted a first league defeat in 16 games on sixth-placed Yokohama F Marinos, while a superb goal from Michael – nonchalantly lifted over the covering defender from a tight angle – gave Albirex Niigata a 1-0 win at Kashima Antlers.

Cerezo are now two points clear of safety in 14th position, with Gamba ahead of Niigata on goal difference with the second highest goals for and goals against tallies in the division.

Omiya Ardija drop to second from bottom after Vegalta Sendai finally returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory at the NACK5 Stadium. Yu Hasegawa gave the Squirrels the lead with a left-footed effort from 25 yards, but Wilson equalised for Sendai right on half time and strikes in the second period from Jiro Kamata and Toshihiro Matsushita secured a first three points in six matches for the title challengers.


With that victory for Vegalta, the gap at the top is back down to just a single point after leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at home to FC Tokyo.

Tokyo manager Ranko Popović took the unusual step of matching Sanfrecce’s idiosyncratic 3-4-2-1 system, and it paid dividends when veteran striker Lucas collected the ball from Yohei Kajiyama and fired a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the net on 49 minutes.

Hiroshima had twice as many goal attempts but were unable to find their way past Shuichi Gonda, with both Hisato Sato and Hironori Ishikawa guilty of misses late on.

Urawa Reds are now just two points off the summit in third after a 2-0 victory away to Shimizu S-Pulse. Tsukasa Umesaki played what was effectively a cross-field 1-2 with Tadaaki Hirakawa to volley Reds in front after 11 minutes, before being fouled by Alex Brosque to give Yuki Abe the chance to double the lead from the spot.

Jubilo Iwata leapfrogged Kashiwa Reysol into fourth with a 3-0 drubbing at the Hitachi Stadium, where Kashiwa defender Naoya Kondo was dismissed after just 18 minutes.

Elsewhere, Nagoya Grampus put their recent miseries behind them with a 1-0 win at Kawasaki Frontale, while Vissel Kobe played out a scoreless draw with Sagan Tosu.

- Shinji Kagawa made an immediate impact on his Old Trafford debut as Manchester United beat Fulham 3-2, scoring a tap-in from close range after Tom Cleverley’s effort had been parried by Mark Schwarzer.
- A host of Japanese names were in action on the opening weekend of the German Bundesliga. Hiroshi Kiyotake was the stand-out performer, sending in the corner for Hanno Balitsch to head the only goal for Nürnberg in their 1-0 win at Hamburg.
- Victory over Yokohama F Marinos was not enough for Sérgio Soares to save his job at Cerezo Osaka, with the club announcing on Sunday that Levir Culpi had returned for a third spell in charge in order to stave off the threat of relegation.

J1 results (matchday 23)
Shimizu S-Pulse 0-2 Urawa Reds
Kashima Antlers 0-1 Albirex Niigata
Omiya Ardija 1-3 Vegalta Sendai
Kashiwa Reysol 0-3 Jubilo Iwata
Kawasaki Frontale 0-1 Nagoya Grampus
Gamba Osaka 7-2 Consadole Sapporo
Cerezo Osaka 2-0 Yokohama F Marinos
Vissel Kobe 0-0 Sagan Tosu
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0-1 FC Tokyo

J2 results (matchday 31)
Tokyo Verdy 0-2 Giravanz Kitakyushu
Ventforet Kofu 2-1 Yokohama FC
Gainare Tottori 0-3 Tokushima Vortis
Ehime FC 0-0 FC Gifu
Shonan Bellmare 2-1 Tochigi SC
Montedio Yamagata 3-1 Machida Zelvia
Thespa Kusatsu 1-0 Kyoto Sanga
JEF United Chiba 3-0 Mito HollyHock
Fagiano Okayama 0-0 Oita Trinita
Avispa Fukuoka 2-2 Matsumoto Yamaga
Roasso Kumamoto 3-0 Kataller Toyama

Ben Mabley will be analysing the English Premier League for the JSports programme ‘Foot!’ this season, every Tuesday night at 10pm on JSports 3.

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