Sunday 21 April 2013

Omiya Ardija win Saitama derby to go 18 unbeaten



Omiya Ardija beat Urawa Reds 1-0 in the Saitama derby to set a new J. League record of 18 matches without defeat.

A record NACK5 Stadium crowd of 13,016 people braved the rain for an early-season derby that pitted third against second, and the majority were not disappointed as Omiya pressed high up the pitch and quickly took control of the game.

Yosuke Kataoka hit the bar with a powerful left-footed shot early on, while Zlatan Ljubijankič saw his headed effort strike the post.

The hosts were unable to underline their superiority with many other clear-cut chances, but the game turned in first-half stoppage time when Urawa defender Daisuke Nasu was forced off the pitch after sustaining a bloody nose in a clash of heads with Ardija’s Slovenian forward.

Omiya took advantage of their temporary numerical superiority to score with the final touch of the half. Takumi Shimohira lofted the ball over Ryota Moriwaki for Daigo Watanabe to send in a low cross and Ljubijankič applied the finish.

The balance of play was reversed after the interval, with Urawa dominating possession and steadily forcing their neighbours backwards, but Omiya kept their shape and defended well to once again demonstrate the adaptability that has made them so difficult to beat.

It was a 1-1 draw away to Urawa on 1 September last year that kicked off an 11-game unbeaten run at the end of the season for Omiya to avoid relegation, and Saturday’s victory now leaves them as the only J1 side not to lose any of their first seven matches this term.

The Squirrels leapfrog their rivals into second in the table and just one point behind Yokohama F Marinos after the leaders saw their 100% record destroyed with a shock 1-0 defeat at lowly Albirex Niigata.

Two substitutes combined for Niigata to steal victory in a game of few chances with 12 minutes remaining. Kengo Kawamata sent a through ball into the path of Hideya Okamoto, who feinted to step off both Dutra and Yuji Nakazawa, before firing a powerful shot above the heads of both defenders plus goalkeeper Tetsuya Enomoto.

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At the lower end of the table, Kanagawa rivals Kawasaki Frontale and Shonan Bellmare both finally achieved their first league wins of the season at the seventh attempt, but Oita Trinita and Jubilo Iwata still await theirs and have become cast adrift at the bottom on just two points apiece.

Renato inspired a brilliant first half for Kawasaki at home to Vegalta Sendai, running 60 yards to set up the returning Yoshito Okubo for the first before netting two himself – a low penalty kick then a left-footed rocket from well outside the area. Yahiro Kazama’s men ultimately ran out 4-2 winners with Okubo scoring again in the second period.

Shonan were deserving 2-1 victors over Oita, while Jubilo Iwata’s misery continued with a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of defending champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Despite a determined effort, the writing was on the wall for Iwata when veteran former Japan goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi miskicked the ball into the path of Hisato Sato for an easy opener after just five minutes.

Elsewhere, Kashiwa Reysol warmed up for the likely confirmation of their place in the last 16 of the AFC Champions League with a comfortable 3-0 win away to Sagan Tosu.

Joshua Kennedy scored the opening goal on his first start of the season for Nagoya Grampus away to FC Tokyo, but two penalties from Lucas helped the hosts turn things round to win 3-1, ending a run of four straight losses.

Shimizu S-Pulse drew 1-1 with Cerezo Osaka, while Kashima Antlers recorded 23 shots but couldn’t break the deadlock in a 0-0 draw with Ventforet Kofu despite the forward presence of Davi, whose goals helped Kofu achieve promotion last season.


J2 HIGHLIGHTS
Vissel Kobe had a late header from veteran forward Takayuki Yoshida to thank for a 2-1 victory away to Yokohama FC which maintains their five-point lead at the top of the division. Gamba Osaka are second after both they and striker Leandro finally rediscovered their explosive powers in front of goal with a 4-0 rout away to Kataller Toyama – the Brazilian scoring a hat-trick to double his tally for the season.


J1 results (matchday 7)
Kawasaki Frontale 4-2 Vegalta Sendai
Shimizu S-Pulse 1-1 Cerezo Osaka
FC Tokyo 3-1 Nagoya Grampus
Sagan Tosu 0-3 Kashiwa Reysol
Jubilo Iwata 0-2 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Omiya Ardija 1-0 Urawa Reds
Shonan Bellmare 2-1 Oita Trinita
Kashima Antlers 0-0 Ventforet Kofu
Albirex Niigata 1-0 Yokohama F Marinos


J2 results (matchday 10)
Montedio Yamagata 1-0 Roasso Kumamoto
Tochigi SC 2-0 FC Gifu
Fagiano Okayama 2-0 Thespakusatsu Gunma
Giravanz Kitakyushu 0-2 Mito HollyHock
V-Varen Nagasaki 0-0 Consadole Sapporo
Kyoto Sanga 3-0 Gainare Tottori
Matsumoto Yamaga P-P Tokyo Verdy
JEF United Chiba 1-1 Avispa Fukuoka
Yokohama FC 1-2 Vissel Kobe
Kataller Toyama 0-4 Gamba Osaka
Tokushima Vortis 3-2 Ehime FC

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