Monday 03 September 2012

Ryang magic sends Sendai back on top

Vegalta Sendai came from behind to beat Kawasaki Frontale 2-1 and return to the head of the J1 table after Sanfrecce Hiroshima were held to a 1-1 draw at Jubilo Iwata.

At the Yamaha Stadium, things appeared to be going according to plan for the leaders at the start of play when Hisato Sato got his head to a Koji Morisaki corner on 20 minutes to register his 18th league goal of an astonishingly prolific season thus far.

But Jubilo were given the opportunity to equalise a quarter of an hour later when Sanfrecce defender Hiroki Mizumoto fouled his international teammate Yuichi Komano. The Japan left-back dusted himself off to take the resulting free kick himself, curling the ball over the outside edge of the wall and just inside Shusaku Nishikawa’s near post.

At this point on Saturday evening, it still looked as if Hiroshima would be staying on top as Sendai trailed at half time; Kyohei Noborizato heading home a cross from Kengo Nakamura.

However, two goals in quick succession early in the second period secured consecutive victories for Makoto Teguramori’s men on the back of the five-game winless run that had threatened to derail their title challenge.

Naoya Tamura headed his first ever J1 goal before Ryang Yong-Gi bent in a beautiful free kick from the edge of the penalty area.

Vegalta now lead Sanfrecce by a single point, with Urawa Reds two further back in third after missing a glorious opportunity to close in further at the Saitama Derby with Omiya Ardija.

The points looked in the bag when Genki Haraguchi put Urawa in front early on and Omiya forward Milivoje Novaković was dismissed for a second yellow card inside just 18 minutes.

But Keigo Higashi levelled the scores with a low, curling effort from well outside the box on the stroke of half time, and Reds were unable to find a winner despite outshooting their neighbours by 17 attempts to two.

Jubilo Iwata are in fourth position, seven points off the top.


At the bottom, Levir Culpi’s rescue mission at Cerezo Osaka got off to the perfect start as the first game of his third spell in charge ended in a 1-0 victory away to relegation battle rivals Albirex Niigata.

A long ball from goalkeeper Kim Jin-Hyeon was headed on by Japan Olympic forward Kenyu Sugimoto for Yoichiro Kakitani to dispatch his seventh goal of the campaign with ten minutes remaining.

The win takes Cerezo five points clear of danger, with city rivals Gamba Osaka now only ahead of the dotted line, Niigata, and Omiya on goal difference after going down 4-1 at the ever-impressive Sagan Tosu.

Elsewhere, Nagoya Grampus edged Kashiwa Reysol 1-0 in a battle of last season’s top two to move up to sixth, level on points with Iwata and Tosu.

Shimizu S-Pulse won 2-0 away to Consadole Sapporo, FC Tokyo beat Yokohama F Marinos 3-1, while a terrific 30-yard strike from Yuya Osako gave Kashima Antlers a 1-0 victory over Vissel Kobe.

- Two Japanese Olympic stars completed late moves ahead of the closure of the European transfer window. Yuki Otsu switched Borussia Mönchengladbach for VVV Venlo, while Maya Yoshida left the Dutch club to join Tadanari Lee at Premier League newcomers Southampton.
- Hiroshi Kiyotake registered his first official Bundesliga assist, with Tomáš Pekhart heading home the former Cerezo man’s corner during a 1-1 draw for Nürnberg at home to Borussia Dortmund.
- VfB Stuttgart full-back Gotoku Sakai is the one uncapped name in Alberto Zaccheroni’s Japan squad for the upcoming friendly with the United Arab Emirates and World Cup qualifying match against Iraq.

J1 results (matchday 24)
Consadole Sapporo 0-2 Shimizu S-Pulse
Urawa Reds 1-1 Omiya Ardija
FC Tokyo 3-1 Yokohama F Marinos
Vegalta Sendai 2-1 Kawasaki Frontale
Kashima Antlers 1-0 Vissel Kobe
Albirex Niigata 0-1 Cerezo Osaka
Jubilo Iwata 1-1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Nagoya Grampus 1-0 Kashiwa Reysol
Gamba Osaka 4-1 Sagan Tosu

J2 results (matchday 32)
Mito HollyHock 2-0 Gainare Tottori
Machida Zelvia 2-2 Fagiano Okayama
Yokohama FC 1-3 Tochigi SC
Matsumoto Yamaga 0-2 Thespa Kusatsu
Kataller Toyama 1-0 Ehime FC
Giravanz Kitakyushu 2-0 Roasso Kumamoto
Oita Trinita 1-2 Ventforet Kofu
Tokushima Vortis 2-2 Montedio Yamagata
JEF United Chiba 2-1 Avispa Fukuoka
FC Gifu 1-0 Tokyo Verdy
Kyoto Sanga 1-2 Shonan Bellmare

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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