Monday 29 October 2012

Zlatan – no, not that one – spurs Squirrels with sensational hat-trick



Zlatan Ljubijankič scored a superb hat-trick as Omiya Ardija moved three points clear of the J1 relegation zone with a sensational 4-1 victory away to reigning champions Kashiwa Reysol.

The Slovenian, whose only previous goal since his mid-season transfer from Gent was a penalty in defeat to Sanfrecce Hiroshima, took advantage of hesitation in the hosts’ defence to open the scoring for Omiya after 21 minutes.

He then took firm control of the match for both himself and his team with two more goals in the opening four minutes of the second half.

Ljubijankič ran onto a through ball from Cho Young-Cheol to round the Kashiwa goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno and roll in Ardija’s second, before knocking a bouncing ball past Hidekazu Otani and brilliantly firing home with the outside of his right foot.

His contribution did not end there, as there was still time to lay on an assist for Daigo Watanabe to net the fourth, before Neto Baiano spotted Takashi Kitano off his line to score an astonishing late consolation goal for Kashiwa from fully 45 yards.

Omiya are now unbeaten in their last seven league matches.

The result was bad news for Albirex Niigata, who succumbed to a Yohei Toyoda brace at home to Sagan Tosu, and for Gamba Osaka, who outperformed league leaders Hiroshima for much of their game but were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw.

Deft footwork from Yasuhito Endo allowed Japan’s most-capped international to evade both Hiroki Mizumoto and Ryota Moriwaki to slot home a deserved opener for the 2005 champions on 56 minutes. However, they were made to pay for their attempts to defend their lead when Kazuyuki Morisaki levelled for Sanfrecce a quarter of an hour from time.

A decent result in isolation became all the more painful for the Osakans later on Saturday evening when local rivals Vissel Kobe came back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 at home to Kawasaki Frontale.

Akira Nishino’s men displayed all the misfortune of a side in freefall when Junpei Kusukami’s cross-cum-shot appeared to give Kawasaki an unassailable advantage midway through the second period, but their determination thereafter reaped its rewards with goals from Yuzo Tashiro and a second of the night for Ken Tokura.

Gamba are now three points adrift of both Omiya and Kobe in the final relegation position, with Niigata two further back in 17th.

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Vegalta Sendai were unable to take advantage of the two dropped points for Hiroshima as they also drew 1-1 in their match away to out-of-form Jubilo Iwata.

Makoto Teguramori’s side looked to have reclaimed their position at the top of the table when right-back Naoki Sugai broke forwards and cut back for Shingo Akamine to net his 12th goal in 16 matches against Iwata with 13 minutes remaining.

But Ryoichi Maeda fought off the attentions of two Sendai defenders to pull the ball across for substitute Kosuke Yamamoto to score the equaliser moments after coming onto the pitch.

A Marcio Richardes effort that rebounded off the crossbar was the closest that third-placed Urawa Reds came to breaking the deadlock in their scoreless draw with Cerezo Osaka, meaning that it remains as you were in the title race with just four matches remaining.

Hiroshima lead Sendai by three goals, while Urawa are still six points off the pace.

Elsewhere, Shimizu S-Pulse moved up into fourth position after winning 2-1 at Kashima Antlers in a match that was marred by scuffles between opposing supporters.

FC Tokyo thrashed already-relegated Consadole Sapporo 5-0, while a trademark free kick by Shunsuke Nakamura rescued a 1-1 draw for Yokohama F Marinos away to Nagoya Grampus.


TALKING POINTS
- Machida Zelvia earned a stay of execution at the foot of J2 as they beat second-from-bottom FC Gifu 1-0 to cut the gap to three points.
- An own goal and a defensive error saw Kyoto Sanga lose 2-0 at Giravanz Kitakyushu, allowing Shonan Bellmare to move within a single point in the battle for automatic promotion.


J1 results (matchday 30)
Urawa Reds 0-0 Cerezo Osaka
Kashiwa Reysol 1-4 Omiya Ardija
Jubilo Iwata 1-1 Vegalta Sendai
Nagoya Grampus 1-1 Yokohama F Marinos
Gamba Osaka 1-1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Kashima Antlers 1-2 Shimizu S-Pulse
FC Tokyo 5-0 Consadole Sapporo
Albirex Niigata 0-2 Sagan Tosu
Vissel Kobe 3-3 Kawasaki Frontale


J2 results (matchday 40)
Montedio Yamagata 0-2 JEF United Chiba
Mito HollyHock 0-0 Fagiano Okayama
Machida Zelvia 1-0 FC Gifu
Oita Trinita 1-0 Avispa Fukuoka
Tokushima Vortis 2-1 Tokyo Verdy
Kataller Toyama 0-2 Shonan Bellmare
Gainare Tottori 0-1 Roasso Kumamoto
Giravanz Kitakyushu 2-0 Kyoto Sanga
Yokohama FC 3-0 Thespa Kusatsu
Tochigi SC 3-2 Matsumoto Yamaga
Ehime FC 0-0 Ventforet Kofu


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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