Monday 11 March 2013

Antlers edge thriller while five-star Marinos destroy S-Pulse

Kashima Antlers emerged as 3-2 winners against Vegalta Sendai on a poignant Saturday afternoon in which the two J. League clubs most affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami paid tribute to the victims.

Two days ahead of the anniversary of the disaster, the match at the Kashima Stadium was preceded by a ceremony and emotional minute’s silence.

Vegalta were missing key midfielders Shingo Tomita and Makoto Kakuda, and the absences showed as Antlers established a clear advantage throughout a first half that ended 1-0 in their favour. The goal came on 29 minutes when Davi reacted quickest to a blocked Takuya Nozawa shot to score with a diving header, moments after Juninho had launched the assault with a shot that cracked off the crossbar.

But the game turned one way then the other with three goals in as many crazy minutes at the start of the second half. The visitors found their way level almost straight from kick off through Yoshiaki Ota, only for Kashima to restore their lead instantly when Yuya Osako collected a cross from Daigo Nishi and expertly spun past Kodai Watanabe.

The day before his 29th birthday, Davi then netted his second from a low Nozawa cross following good Kashima build-up play on the right.

Sendai slowly found their way back into the game and scored on the counter midway through the half when substitute Heberty pierced the home defence with a through ball for Wilson. But Antlers held out to record a first win for Toninho Cerezo since his return to the club he successfully managed between 2000 and 2005.


Yokohama F Marinos sit atop the nascent table after sending Afshin Ghotbi and his young Shimizu S-Pulse side back to the drawing board with a stunning 5-0 away victory at Nihondaira.

Former Celtic star Shunsuke Nakamura opened the scoring direct from a corner kick after eight minutes, before a lofted through ball from Seitaro Tomisawa sent Shingo Hyodo in to lob Akihiro Hayashi and double the advantage.

The second half was the Marquinhos show, however, as the Brazilian – who turns 37 later this month – rolled back the years with a brilliant hat-trick.

Manabu Saito once again made a name for himself when coming off the bench to provide the assists for Marquinhos’s first and third goals, but the pick of the bunch came when Nakamura sent a diagonal ball over the advanced S-Pulse defence for the striker to run clean through and net the team’s fourth.

There was also a Marinos connection at the Ajinomoto Stadium as Kazuma Watanabe and Aria Jasuru Hasegawa both scored in a 3-0 victory over Kashiwa Reysol for FC Tokyo, the club they left Yokohama to join last year.

The impressive win over the 2011 champions means that Ranko Popović’s men join Marinos on maximum points – alongside Cerezo Osaka, who won 2-1 at J2 champions Ventforet Kofu, and Urawa Reds, who beat Nagoya Grampus 1-0.

In a game of good quality yet often lacking a spark, Urawa deservedly made the breakthrough nine minutes into the second half when Shinzo Koroki spotted a perfect pass for the overlapping left wing-back Tomoya Ugajin, whose brilliant first time shot curled inside Seigo Narazaki’s far post.

Incredibly, this is the first time for 15 years that Reds have begun the season with two wins.

Elsewhere, defending champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima partially atoned for their defeat against Urawa last week with a hard-fought 2-1 victory away to ten-man Albirex Niigata, who had defender Seiya Fujita sent off for two yellow cards within the first quarter of the game.

Omiya Ardija contined their fine start with a 1-0 win at Jubilo Iwata – Kosuke Kikuchi the scorer. Kawasaki Frontale and Oita Trinita collected their first points of the campaign in a 1-1 draw at the National Stadium, while Shonan Bellmare’s meeting with Sagan Tosu ended in the same scoreline.

Vissel Kobe moved top of the J2 table with a thumping 4-0 win over FC Gifu, leaving only them and Avispa Fukuoka on maximum points after the latter beat Montedio Yamagata. V-Varen Nagasaki’s first ever home game in the J. League ended in a 3-1 defeat to promotion favourites Gamba Osaka.

J1 results (matchday 2)
Albirex Niigata 1-2 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Kashima Antlers 3-2 Vegalta Sendai
FC Tokyo 3-0 Kashiwa Reysol
Ventforet Kofu 1-2 Cerezo Osaka
Shimizu S-Pulse 0-5 Yokohama F Marinos
Kawasaki Frontale 1-1 Oita Trinita
Jubilo Iwata 0-1 Omiya Ardija
Urawa Reds 1-0 Nagoya Grampus
Shonan Bellmare 1-1 Sagan Tosu

J2 results (matchday 2)
Mito HollyHock 1-0 Kataller Toyama
Thespakusatsu Gunma 0-0 Gainare Tottori
Fagiano Okayama 0-0 Giravanz Kitakyushu
Ehime FC 1-1 Matsumoto Yamaga
V-Varen Nagasaki 1-3 Gamba Osaka
Consadole Sapporo 0-1 Tochigi SC
Yokohama FC 2-2 Tokushima Vortis
Vissel Kobe 4-0 FC Gifu
Avispa Fukuoka 2-1 Montedio Yamagata
Roasso Kumamoto 0-3 JEF United Chiba
Kyoto Sanga 0-0 Tokyo Verdy

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