Sunday 23 September 2012

Episode 200: Late drama keeps Hiroshima on top while Gamba annihilate Urawa

Late goals were the order of the day at the top of J1 on Saturday as Sanfrecce Hiroshima just about managed to hold onto their two-point lead over Vegalta Sendai.

In a 3.30pm kickoff at the Yurtec Stadium, Sendai conceded the opening goal for the fourth match in a row as Yuzo Tashiro of Vissel Kobe rose highest to head home from a Takuya Nozawa corner.

Tashiro went off injured later in the first half to be replaced by Ken Tokura, who thought he had doubled the visitors’ advantage only to be denied by an offside flag.

Vegalta then rallied to equalise three minutes before the interval, Ryang Yong-Gi sending in a cross from the left for Shingo Akamine to head in from eight yards.

The score remained level until the end of an intense second period, when Sendai won a corner in the final minute of the ninety. Ryang’s ball in was headed down by Toshihiro Matsushita, and centre-back Jiro Kamata improvised in front of goal to score with an overhead kick and give the title challengers a crucial 2-1 victory.

Provisionally overhauled at the summit, the pressure was now on Sanfrecce ahead of a tough 7pm kickoff away to 2010 champions Nagoya Grampus, who were still looking to keep alive their own hopes of glory.

Hajime Moriyasu’s side took a 1-0 lead into half time when Kohei Shimizu was given acres of space to run onto a flick from Yojiro Takahagi, turned outside Grampus defender Daniel with ease, and fired the ball inside Seigo Narazaki’s near post.

But the hosts were level five minutes after the interval following a move started and finished by Marcus Tulio Tanaka. Breaking deep into Hiroshima territory, the former Japan all-rounder played the ball out to Taishi Taguchi, and continued his run to head the subsequent cross from right-back Hayuma Tanaka just inside the post.

The match appeared to be heading for stalemate, which would have left Hiroshima ahead of Sendai on goals scored alone. However, in the final minute of added time, substitute Naoki Ishihara lofted the ball over the Nagoya defence for Ryota Moriwaki to send a perfect looping header over the flailing Narazaki and in off the post for a dramatic winner.

Grampus fall to sixth place in the table, nine points off the Sanfrecce pace with just eight left to play.


Third-from-bottom Gamba Osaka sent shockwaves through both ends of the table with a total nullification and annihilation of third-placed Urawa Reds, incredibly winning 5-0 at the Saitama Stadium.

Hiroyuki Abe gave the relegation battlers the lead when his low shot went in under the late dive of a possibly unsighted Nobuhiro Kato, before Leandro guided Hiroki Fujiharu’s cross inside the far post with a deft header to double their advantage on 36 minutes.

Remaining on top throughout, to the delight of the 2,000 travelling supporters, Gamba effectively sealed the win on the hour mark when Fujiharu cut the ball back for Leandro to nonchalantly convert a left-footed, back-heeled volley as if it was the easiest thing in the world. The Brazilian marksman now has an astonishing nine goals in seven appearances since returning to the club this summer.

His compatriot Paulinho subsequently came off the bench to round off the party with two further strikes in the final five minutes.

The result was not enough to take the Osaka club out of the relegation zone, however, as Omiya Ardija had already begun the afternoon with another 5-0 away victory against hapless Consadole Sapporo.

After a goalless first period, the game turned decisively when Sapporo midfielder Junpei Takaki received a straight red for a foul on half-time substitute Zlatan Ljubijankič.

Milivoje Novaković converted the resultant penalty and went on to score a hat-trick in a comprehensive win that also saw goals for Carlinhos and Yu Hasegawa.

Omiya remain two points clear of Gamba, with Albirex Niigata now two further back in 17th position after their goalless draw at fourth-placed Jubilo Iwata. The game ended in controversy when Kisho Yano’s cutback hit Michael and went into the open net to apparently seal victory for Albirex, only for the goal to be ruled out by the linesman’s flag.

Iwata are now eight points off the top, with Sagan Tosu one point behind them thanks to a 3-1 victory over Kashiwa Reysol, whose hopes of defending their crown look to be over as they now trail Hiroshima by 11 points.

Elsewhere, Cerezo Osaka stayed four points clear of danger after a 3-2 home win over Shimizu S-Pulse. Yokohama F Marinos won 2-1 in Kashima despite the dismissal of former Antlers forward Marquinhos, while Kawasaki Frontale beat FC Tokyo by the same margin.

J1 results (matchday 26)
Consadole Sapporo 0-5 Omiya Ardija
Kashima Antlers 1-2 Yokohama F Marinos
Vegalta Sendai 2-1 Vissel Kobe
Urawa Reds 0-5 Gamba Osaka
Jubilo Iwata 0-0 Albirex Niigata
Cerezo Osaka 3-2 Shimizu S-Pulse
FC Tokyo 1-2 Kawasaki Frontale
Nagoya Grampus 1-2 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Sagan Tosu 3-1 Kashiwa Reysol

J2 results (matchday 35)
Matsumoto Yamaga 7-1 Gainare Tottori
Giravanz Kitakyushu 2-3 Ventforet Kofu
Oita Trinita 0-1 Tochigi SC
Yokohama FC 1-0 Tokushima Vortis
Roasso Kumamoto 3-1 Avispa Fukuoka
Thespa Kusatsu 3-1 Montedio Yamagata
JEF United Chiba 2-2 Tokyo Verdy
Machida Zelvia L-L Kataller Toyama
FC Gifu L-L Shonan Bellmare
Kyoto Sanga L-L Mito HollyHock
Ehime FC L-L Fagiano Okayama

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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