Monday 07 May 2012

CATCH UP – Golden Week 2012




Football Japan’s Ben Mabley presents a quick catch-up of two rounds of J1 action during the Japanese Golden Week holiday before this week’s main Minutecast, which will focus on a full programme of Sunday fixtures.


J1 results (matchday 8 – Saturday 28 April 2012)
FC Tokyo 0-1 Shimizu S-Pulse
Nagoya Grampus 1-2 Urawa Reds
Kashiwa Reysol 1-1 Sagan Tosu
Kawasaki Frontale 1-4 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Kashima Antlers 5-0 Gamba Osaka
Omiya Ardija 2-1 Consadole Sapporo
Yokohama F Marinos 3-1 Vissel Kobe
Albirex Niigata 0-1 Vegalta Sendai
Cerezo Osaka 3-2 Jubilo Iwata


J1 results (matchday 9 – Thursday 3 May 2012)
Consadole Sapporo 1-0 Cerezo Osaka
Vissel Kobe 3-0 Omiya Ardija
Kawasaki Frontale 4-3 Jubilo Iwata
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0-1 Albirex Niigata
Sagan Tosu 1-1 Vegalta Sendai
Urawa Reds 1-2 Yokohama F Marinos
Shimizu S-Pulse 3-0 Kashima Antlers
FC Tokyo P-P Kashiwa Reysol
Gamba Osaka P-P Nagoya Grampus

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Monday 23 April 2012

‘Urawa killer’ strikes again to give Omiya more derby honours



Omiya Ardija inflicted a first league defeat since opening day upon neighbours Urawa Reds as Cho Young-Cheol registered a goal and an assist en route to their 2-0 victory in Saturday’s Saitama derby.

A pre-season arrival from Albirex Niigata, the South Korean international cut inside Japan defender Yuki Abe from the left flank to fire a low right-footed shot across Reds goalkeeper Nobuhiro Kato and in off the far post after just eight minutes.

Cho then sent in a perfect deep cross for Rafael to head the home side at the NACK5 Stadium into a two-goal advantage twenty minutes later. It was the Brazilian’s seventh strike in just six matches against Omiya’s local rivals.

Urawa manager Mihailo Petrović sent on Genki Haraguchi for the visitors to seize the attacking initiative in the second half, but an inspired performance from Takashi Kitano in the Ardija goal ensured that there was no way back for the visitors, who slip to sixth in the table.

The result allowed Vegalta Sendai to pull out a five-point lead at the top with a 4-0 hammering of FC Tokyo later the same evening. Shingo Akamine opened the scoring right at the end of the first period, before Kunimitsu Sekiguchi headed home his third goal in as many games to double the lead on 58 minutes.

Yoshiaki Ota and Jiro Kamata rounded off the scoring late on to take Sendai’s record to six wins and one draw from their opening seven league games.

2010 champions Nagoya Grampus move up to second despite the concession of a 94th-minute equaliser in their 1-1 draw away to fourth-placed Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Ryota Moriwaki hit an unstoppable 25-yard shot in off the crossbar to rescue a point after Hayuma Tanaka’s acute header had seemingly put Nagoya on course for all three.

Jubilo Iwata are third thanks to a stunning Hiroki Yamada effort to give them a 1-0 victory at home to winless Yokohama F Marinos. The 23-year-old, who has been called up to the Japan squad for a training camp this week, dribbled past two opponents before smashing the ball through a crowd of defenders and into the roof of the net from the left-hand corner of the box.

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Consadole Sapporo looked on course for their first win of the season as they led Kawasaki Frontale 2-0 at half time, only for Kengo Nakamura to come off the bench and inspire a comeback akin to that which his side had suffered at Gamba Osaka last week.

The 31-year-old midfielder pulled one back with his first touch of the ball to reverse the momentum of the match, and Kawasaki were level from the spot through Renato ten minutes later to set up a grandstand finish. Another substitute, Koji Yamase, fired home on 88 minutes to complete the recovery and break home fans’ hearts.

Kashima Antlers also fought back from two down to move out of the relegation zone with a 3-2 win over Cerezo Osaka. Kim Bo-Kyung’s first half brace counted for nought as strikes from Dutra, Shinzo Koroki, and Yasushi Endo turned around a match that threatened to boil over for much of the second period.

Newly-promoted Sagan Tosu moved up to an incredible fifth position thanks to a 1-0 victory against third-from-bottom Albirex Niigata. The game was also notable for the league debut of Koki Kiyotake, younger brother of Cerezo and Japan star Hiroshi.

Elsewhere, Gamba followed up their first domestic win of the season with a comfortable second, beating Shimizu S-Pulse 3-1 at Banpaku on Sunday evening, while Vissel Kobe broke their run of six straight losses in all competitions when overcoming Kashiwa Reysol by the same scoreline. The champions have begun their defence with just seven points from as many matches and sit a dozen places and points adrift of the summit.


TALKING POINTS
- Shonan Bellmare kept up their superb start to the J2 season, winning 2-1 at Tokyo Verdy to move six points clear of Montedio Yamagata at the top.
- Shinji Kagawa scored his 13th Bundesliga goal of the campaign to help seal a second straight German title for Borussia Dortmund as they beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0 on Saturday.


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


J2 results (matchday 9)
Mito HollyHock 1-0 Thespa Kusatsu
Tochigi SC 1-1 FC Gifu
Ventforet Kofu 1-1 Machida Zelvia
Ehime FC 0-0 Roasso Kumamoto
Giravanz Kitakyushu 0-1 Montedio Yamagata
Yokohama FC 2-1 Kyoto Sanga
Tokyo Verdy 1-2 Shonan Bellmare
Matsumoto Yamaga 1-0 JEF United Chiba
Kataller Toyama 2-3 Oita Trinita
Fagiano Okayama 2-0 Gainare Tottori
Tokushima Vortis 0-4 Avispa Fukuoka


AFC Champions League group stage results (East Asia, matchday 4)
Group E
Adelaide United (AUS) 1-0 Pohang Steelers (KOR)
Bunyodkor (UZB) 3-2 Gamba Osaka (JPN)

Group F
Brisbane Roar (AUS) 1-2 Ulsan Hyundai (KOR)
FC Tokyo (JPN) 3-0 Beijing Guoan (CHN)

Group G
Nagoya Grampus (JPN) 0-0 Tianjin Teda (CHN)
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (KOR) 5-0 Central Coast Mariners (AUS)

Group H
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR) 3-2 Buriram United (THA)
Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN) 3-1 Kashiwa Reysol (JPN)


Yamazaki Nabisco Cup group stage results (matchday 2)
Group A
Kawasaki Frontale 3-1 Vegalta Sendai
Jubilo Iwata 1-0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Urawa Reds 1-4 Cerezo Osaka

Group B
Consadole Sapporo 1-2 Kashima Antlers
Albirex Niigata 1-0 Vissel Kobe
Shimizu S-Pulse 1-0 Yokohama F Marinos

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Monday 16 April 2012

Leaders edge champions in free-scoring J1 weekend



After a relatively low key start to the 2012 season, the J. League burst into life on Saturday with 28 goals scored across the nine top flight matches. Early leaders Vegalta Sendai issued a statement of intent to the rest of the division with a 3-2 victory away to reigning champions Kashiwa Reysol.

The visitors took the lead after just two minutes when a corner from Yoshiaki Ota found the head of Vegalta defender Naoki Sugai. Leandro Domingues levelled the scores with a fabulous free kick early in the second half, but Kashiwa were behind again almost immediately thanks to a second goal in as many matches from Kunimitsu Sekiguchi after Wilson’s skilful footwork tore a hole through the defence.

Leandro equalised again, somewhat bizarrely, when his half-hearted attempt from a narrow angle somehow squirmed through the legs of Takuto Hayashi in the visitors’ goal. But Shingo Akamine was on hand to seal all three points for Sendai from another Ota cross, and the champions’ misery was complete when Leandro was sent off for a second yellow card late on.

Shimizu S-Pulse leapfrogged local rivals Jubilo Iwata into sixth place in the middle of the chasing pack with a 3-2 win in the first Shizuoka derby of the year.

The home side at Nihondaira recovered from the concession of a Cho Byung-Kuk opener to equalise through Toshiyuki Takagi right on half time, before two well taken goals by Genki Omae bookended the second 45 minutes and gave S-Pulse an unassailable advantage despite an even later consolation strike by Kosuke Yamamoto.

In the weekend’s third 3-2 scoreline, Gamba Osaka finally secured three points for the first time this season thanks to a dramatic comeback against manager-less Kawasaki Frontale.

Despite the midweek sacking of former boss Naoki Soma, Kawasaki came out of the blocks quickly to lead after just 19 seconds through Yusuke Sakata’s header, before Yu Kobayashi was left totally unmarked at a Sakata corner on the half hour to seemingly push Gamba towards their fifth league defeat in six.

But a Sota Nakazawa header at the end of the first half restored hope for Masanobu Matsunami’s men, who rose to the occasion to turn things around in the second period thanks to goals from new boys Akihiro Sato and Hiroyuki Abe.

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Kashima Antlers moved off the foot of the table with their first win of the season away to highflying FC Tokyo.

After Shinzo Koroki dinked the visitors into a first half lead, Tokyo levelled in unusual fashion with just six minutes remaining when Sotan Tanabe eventually fired the ball in through a melee of players at an indirect free kick awarded when Hitoshi Sogahata handled a back pass.

Hitoshi Shiota had committed a similar offence earlier in the match after replacing the injured Shuichi Gonda, but although the hosts had survived on that occasion, his day was ruined when a poor parry from Juninho’s attempt left an open goal for Yasushi Endo to win it deep into stoppage time.

With Sanfrecce Hiroshima also losing 1-0 away to the impressive J1 newcomers Sagan Tosu, Urawa Reds took advantage to move up as high as second with a 2-0 victory over Vissel Kobe. Yuki Abe netted his first goal since returning from Leicester City, while Marcio Richardes converted a trademark free kick late on.

Elsewhere, Nagoya Grampus rose to third with a comfortable 3-1 win over Consadole Sapporo, who drop to the bottom. Cerezo Osaka surprisingly succumbed to Albirex Niigata’s first victory of the campaign, while winless Yokohama F Marinos played out a 1-1 draw with Omiya Ardija.


TALKING POINTS
- Shonan Bellmare maintained their unbeaten start in J2, defeating Yokohama FC 3-2 to stand four points clear of Kyoto Sanga at the summit.
- Shinji Kagawa’s Borussia Dortmund need just one more point to seal their second straight Bundesliga crown after coming from behind to edge Atsuto Uchida’s Schalke 04 2-1 in the Ruhr derby.
- In women’s football, Nadeshiko League champions INAC Kobe Leonessa began the defence of their title in spectacular fashion with a 7-0 thrashing of newly-promoted Speranza FC Osaka Takatsuki on Sunday afternoon.


J1 results (matchday 6)
Kashiwa Reysol 2-3 Vegalta Sendai
FC Tokyo 1-2 Kashima Antlers
Yokohama F Marinos 1-1 Omiya Ardija
Urawa Reds 2-0 Vissel Kobe
Shimizu S-Pulse 3-2 Jubilo Iwata
Nagoya Grampus 3-1 Consadole Sapporo
Sagan Tosu 1-0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Gamba Osaka 3-2 Kawasaki Frontale
Cerezo Osaka 0-1 Albirex Niigata


J2 results (matchday 8)
Montedio Yamagata 1-0 Kataller Toyama
Thespa Kusatsu 1-0 Ehime FC
Machida Zelvia 0-3 Tochigi SC
Roasso Kumamoto 0-3 Matsumoto Yamaga
Kyoto Sanga 1-0 Tokyo Verdy
JEF United Chiba 0-0 Fagiano Okayama
Shonan Bellmare 3-2 Yokohama FC
FC Gifu 1-0 Giravanz Kitakyushu
Gainare Tottori 0-0 Ventforet Kofu
Avispa Fukuoka 1-1 Mito HollyHock
Oita Trinita 0-0 Tokushima Vortis

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Monday 09 April 2012

Last gasp Vegalta retain hold on summit in clash of the top two



Vegalta Sendai lost their perfect start to the season but managed to hold onto top spot thanks to a late, late equaliser from Wilson in their topsy-turvy 2-2 draw with closest rivals Jubilo Iwata.

The league leaders exercised their home advantage to gradually take control of the game, and thought they had finally broken the deadlock early in the second half when Wilson converted from Shingo Akamine’s pinpoint pass, only to see the linesman’s flag raised for a narrow offside.

Incredibly, Iwata were the ones to open the scoring a few minutes later with their first attempt of the game. Minoru Suganuma was left unmarked at the far post to just about bundle a Hiroki Yamada cross over the line, via the post and Sendai goalkeeper Takuto Hayashi.

Vegalta finally found their way level with a quarter of an hour remaining through Kunimitsu Sekiguchi – a popular return to form for the 26-year-old after failing to register a single goal or assist in 2011 – and looked set to push for the win; only to fall behind again to Jubilo’s second shot on goal four minutes later. Kosuke Yamamoto took advantage of a standoffish defence to fire home from the D.

At this point, the home side appeared to lose their rhythm and entered the last of five added minutes without coming close to a second equaliser. But with seconds on the clock, Wilson expertly chested down a hopeful long ball from Naoki Sugai before somehow managing to turn and squeeze it home past Naoki Hatta.

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FC Tokyo overcame a second yellow card for Aria Jasuru Hasegawa – who was returning from a one-match ban after a similar sanction against Vissel Kobe a fortnight ago – to clinch a dramatic late win at Kawasaki Frontale and move within a point of the summit. Masato Morishige was the hero with a towering header from Naohiro Ishikawa’s corner.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima rose to second, ahead of FC Tokyo on goal difference, with a 4-1 victory over Gamba Osaka, who fall to second from bottom.

Jorginho only had to wait two minutes to finally see his Kashima Antlers notch their first league goal of the season against Urawa Reds, but their troubles continued as they conspired to fall behind just three minutes later. Shinzo Koroki’s early header was immediately cancelled out by Marcio Richardes, before Popo gave the away side the lead following brilliant work from Yuki Abe and Yosuke Kashiwagi.

Richardes netted from the spot later in the first half to seal a 3-1 Urawa win that keeps Kashima rooted to the bottom.

Cerezo Osaka needed a Hiroshi Kiyotake penalty to break down the hosts’ resistance in their game at Omiya Ardija, but demonstrated their fine attacking potential with two goals from Kim Bo-Kyung soon thereafter to win 3-0 and move up to fifth.

Elsewhere, champions Kashiwa Reysol won 2-0 at Consadole Sapporo to seal only their second three points of the season, while Nagoya Grampus had an outstanding performance from goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki to thank for a 1-0 home victory over newly-promoted Sagan Tosu.

A late Alex Brosque strike enabled Shimizu S-Pulse to edge past Vissel Kobe, while Yokohama F Marinos played out a second successive 0-0 draw – this time away to Albirex Niigata.


TALKING POINTS
- A 4-1 thrashing of the Brazil women’s team on Thursday sealed Kirin Challenge Cup success for Nadeshiko Japan – and a welcome boost ahead of the London Olympics.
- FC Tokyo, Nagoya Grampus, and Kashiwa Reysol are all in position to progress through from the AFC Champions League group stage at the halfway mark, while Gamba Osaka revived their chances with a 3-1 win over Uzbekistani outfit Bunyodkor.


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


J2 results (matchday 7)
Mito HollyHock 0-1 JEF United Chiba
Tochigi SC 2-0 Roasso Kumamoto
Tokyo Verdy 2-0 Tokushima Vortis
Fagiano Okayama 1-0 Matsumoto Yamaga
Ehime FC 4-2 Avispa Fukuoka
Giravanz Kitakyushu 1-0 Gainare Tottori
Yokohama FC 1-2 Montedio Yamagata
Shonan Bellmare 2-0 Machida Zelvia
Ventforet Kofu 1-0 Oita Trinita
Kataller Toyama 1-2 Thespa Kusatsu
FC Gifu 0-1 Kyoto Sanga


AFC Champions League group stage results (East Asia, matchday 3)
Group E
Gamba Osaka (JPN) 3-1 Bunyodkor (UZB)
Pohang Steelers (KOR) 1-0 Adelaide United (AUS)

Group F
Ulsan Hyundai (KOR) 1-1 Brisbane Roar (AUS)
Beijing Guoan (CHN) 1-1 FC Tokyo (JPN)

Group G
Central Coast Mariners (AUS) 1-1 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (KOR)
Tianjin Teda (CHN) 0-3 Nagoya Grampus (JPN)

Group H
Kashiwa Reysol (JPN) 0-0 Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN)
Buriram United (THA) 0-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR)


Yamazaki Nabisco Cup group stage results (matchday 2)
Group A
Vegalta Sendai 2-0 Sagan Tosu
Jubilo Iwata 4-3 Urawa Reds
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-1 Kawasaki Frontale

Group B
Kashima Antlers 1-0 Omiya Ardija
Shimizu S-Pulse 1-0 Albirex Niigata
Yokohama F Marinos 1-2 Consadole Sapporo

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Monday 02 April 2012

Table-topping Sendai extend perfect record to four from four



Vegalta Sendai stand clear atop the J. League table after extending their 100% record to a fourth weekend with a 2-1 win away to Cerezo Osaka on Saturday.

Makoto Teguramori’s side survived an early scare when a Hiroshi Kiyotake volley struck their crossbar and opened the scoring themselves on 34 minutes. Wilson carried the ball along the left flank and laid it off for Shingo Akamine to attempt a shot through a crowd of defenders, which then rebounded kindly for the Brazilian to net his first goal since arriving from Shaanxi Chan-Ba of China over the winter.

More efficient counterattacking play brought Sendai their second shortly after the interval. Yoshiaki Ota beat two players and sent in a cross from the right that Hotaru Yamaguchi could only nod into the path of an unmarked Akamine, leaving goalkeeper Kim Jin-Kyeon in no-man’s land for the striker to convert with a simple header.

Cerezo battled hard to get back into the game but their only reward came in the form of a consolation strike from supersub Ryuji Bando five minutes from time.

Newly promoted Sagan Tosu provided the biggest victory and surprise of the weekend, thrashing big-spending Vissel Kobe 3-0 to move up to fifth position in their debut J1 season.

All three of their goals arrived via crosses from the right-hand side, with Kei Ikeda playing the ball across for the 24th-minute substitute Ryunosuke Noda to slide in at the far post for the opener within moments of his arrival. Last season’s 23-goal hero Yohei Toyoda converted in confident fashion just before the break, while Ikeda rounded off a fine performance with the third right on full time.

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Jubilo Iwata are in second place with 10 points from a possible 12 after a 1-0 win over defending champions Kashiwa Reysol, whose title defence has begun somewhat inauspiciously with just four points from as many matches.

Japan forward Ryoichi Maeda played Takuya Matsuura into space on the right flank, and continued his run towards the far post to divert a low return pass beyond Takanori Sugeno.

FC Tokyo suffered their first reverse since returning to the top flight with a 1-0 home loss to Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who join them on nine points to round off the top four. Mihael Mikić rolled a perfect low cross ahead of three opposing defenders for Hisato Sato to slot home the only goal after 56 minutes.

Jun Kanakubo cancelled out a glorious opener from Danilson to earn Omiya Ardija a creditable point at home to Nagoya Grampus, while neighbours Urawa Reds were left clinging on to draw 1-1 with Kawasaki Frontale after new signings Yuki Abe and Tomoaki Makino both saw red for two bookable offences in the second period.

Seven-times champions Kashima Antlers are still goalless but do at least now have their first point under Jorginho following a 0-0 draw at Yokohama F Marinos. They sit at the foot of the table on goal difference beneath Consadole Sapporo, who lost 1-0 away to Shimizu S-Pulse.

A 1-1 draw also brought first points of the season for both Albirex Niigata and Gamba Osaka. New Gamba boss Masanobu Matsunami expressed his satisfaction at the team’s performance in his first game in charge since replacing the hapless José Carlos Serrão last week.


TALKING POINTS
- Shinji Kagawa netted the first in a thrilling 4-4 draw for Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund at home to Gotoku Sakai’s VfB Stuttgart. His goal takes him to 12 league strikes for the season – a record for any Japanese player in a major European competition.
- Shonan Bellmare won 2-1 at Gainare Tottori to retain top spot in J2. Tokyo Verdy are three points back in second following their 2-1 victory away to new local rivals Machida Zelvia.


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


J2 results (matchday 6)
Montedio Yamagata 0-0 Mito HollyHock
Tochigi SC 2-1 JEF United Chiba
Matsumoto Yamaga 0-3 Kataller Toyama
Kyoto Sanga 3-2 Avispa Fukuoka
Gainare Tottori 1-2 Shonan Bellmare
Roasso Kumamoto 3-0 FC Gifu
Thespa Kusatsu 1-1 Yokohama FC
Machida Zelvia 1-2 Tokyo Verdy
Ventforet Kofu 1-2 Giravanz Kitakyushu
Tokushima Vortis 1-2 Fagiano Okayama
Oita Trinita 1-0 Ehime FC

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Monday 26 March 2012

Enough is enough as pointless Gamba sack Serrão after five matches



Gamba Osaka have quickly lost patience with their hapless manager José Carlos Serrão – announcing the sacking of both the Brazilian and his assistant Wagner Lopes this afternoon after yesterday’s 2-1 home loss against Jubilo Iwata completed a run of five straight losses from the start of the season.

Following another dire defeat away to Adelaide United in midweek, it was a familiar story again at Banpaku as Jubilo midfielder Minoru Suganuma found acres of space to lay on a through ball for Kosuke Yamamoto, who coolly opened the scoring on 23 minutes.

The visitors’ lead was doubled on the hour when Ryoichi Maeda netted from the spot after being felled in somewhat comical fashion by goalkeeper Yosuke Fujigaya, who was quite fortunate not to at least receive a yellow card for his actions.

Shu Kurata pulled one back with a perfectly placed header on 84 minutes but the Gamba rally was too little, too late, and club president Kikuo Kanamori remained at the ground with other board members until late at night to determine Serrão’s fate.

Former striker Masanobu Matsunami, who played for the club in the inaugural J. League season back in 1993 and joined the coaching team after retiring with a title winners’ medal in 2005, will initially take over the managerial reins.

A statement from Kanamori read, “Serrão was unable to impose his style of football upon the team, and we have come to this decision in light both of the five consecutive defeats and of the lack of dynamism in the football played throughout.”

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Vegalta Sendai stand on top of the J1 table after thrashing Omiya Ardija 4-1 to record their third win in three league matches.

Cho Young-Cheol netted from close range to give Omiya a first-half lead, but Sendai levelled shortly after the restart through Yoshiaki Ota before pulling ahead thanks to an own goal by the most unfortunate Kosuke Kikuchi.

Further strikes from Naoki Sugai and Ota again completed the scoring.

J2 champions FC Tokyo also retained their 100% record with a 2-0 victory away to fellow high-fliers Vissel Kobe. Naohiro Ishikawa finished off a terrific team goal on the counter after 32 minutes following good work from Yohei Kajiyama and Lucas, while substitute Kazuma Watanabe evaded Masahiko Inoha to seal the win deep into second half stoppage time.

Sagan Tosu earned their first ever J1 win with a solitary goal from on-loan Kota Mizunuma against his parent club, Yokohama F Marinos. However, Consadole Sapporo succumbed to a well-taken brace by Yosuke Kashiwagi of Urawa Reds despite leading through Masaki Yamamoto’s second superb strike in two games.

Defending champions Kashiwa Reysol followed up their 5-1 AFC Champions League hammering of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in midweek by securing their first domestic three points of the campaign, but they needed a dramatic late double from defender Tatsuya Masushima to complete a 2-1 comeback victory over Shimizu S-Pulse.

Kashima Antlers and Albirex Niigata both remain pointless after defeats away to Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Nagoya Grampus, respectively. Kawasaki Frontale slipped to their first reverse of the campaign, losing 1-0 at home to unbeaten Cerezo Osaka.


TALKING POINTS
- In the two remaining AFC Champions League group games featuring Japanese clubs, FC Tokyo were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Ulsan Hyundai while Nagoya Grampus drew 1-1 at Central Coast Mariners.
- Shonan Bellmare lost their 100% record but held onto top spot in J2 with a thrilling 3-3 draw away to Roasso Kumamoto.


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


J2 results (matchday 5)
Mito HollyHock 0-0 Matsumoto Yamaga
Kataller Toyama 2-3 Giravanz Kitakyushu
Kyoto Sanga 2-1 Machida Zelvia
Fagiano Okayama 2-1 Montedio Yamagata
Avispa Fukuoka 4-0 Gainare Tottori
Yokohama FC 0-2 Ventforet Kofu
Ehime FC 1-1 Tochigi SC
JEF United Chiba 3-0 Tokushima Vortis
Tokyo Verdy 2-0 Thespa Kusatsu
Roasso Kumamoto 3-3 Shonan Bellmare
FC Gifu 0-2 Oita Trinita


AFC Champions League group stage results (East Asia, matchday 2)
Group E
Adelaide United (AUS) 2-0 Gamba Osaka (JPN)
Pohang Steelers (KOR) 0-2 Bunyodkor (UZB)

Group F
FC Tokyo (JPN) 2-2 Ulsan Hyundai (KOR)
Beijing Guoan (CHN) 1-1 Brisbane Roar (AUS)

Group G
Central Coast Mariners (AUS) 1-1 Nagoya Grampus (JPN)
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (KOR) 1-1 Tianjin Teda (CHN)

Group H
Kashiwa Reysol (JPN) 5-1 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR)
Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN) 1-2 Buriram United (THA)


Yamazaki Nabisco Cup group stage results
Group A
Urawa Reds 1-0 Vegalta Sendai
Sagan Tosu 2-1 Kawasaki Frontale
Jubilo Iwata 2-1 Cerezo Osaka

Group B
Consadole Sapporo 0-1 Albirex Niigata
Kashima Antlers 2-0 Vissel Kobe
Omiya Ardija 1-1 Yokohama F Marinos
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Monday 19 March 2012

Special: The Osaka derby and the 2012 J. League with Sean Carroll and Nobuyuki Tosey




Football Japan’s Ben Mabley is joined by Sean Carroll and Nobuyuki Tosey to reflect on Saturday’s Osaka derby and present an ever-so-slightly belated preview of the 2012 J1 season.


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


J2 results (matchday 3)
Montedio Yamagata 3-2 Oita Trinita
Kyoto Sanga 2-0 Roasso Kumamoto
Gainare Tottori 0-3 Machida Zelvia
Tokushima Vortis 0-1 Tochigi SC
Matsumoto Yamaga 1-0 Giravanz Kitakyushu
Shonan Bellmare 3-1 Avispa Fukuoka
Kataller Toyama 1-4 Tokyo Verdy
FC Gifu 0-0 Thespa Kusatsu
Fagiano Okayama 0-3 Mito HollyHock
JEF United Chiba 3-0 Yokohama FC
Ventforet Kofu 2-1 Ehime FC

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Monday 12 March 2012

Six-goal thriller for Reysol and Marinos while Kobe ease to Kansai derby win




A minute’s silence was observed at football grounds across Japan as the 2012 J1 season kicked off on the first anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the east coast of the country on 11 March last year.

Defending champions Kashiwa Reysol were fittingly involved in the most entertaining and dramatic fixture of the opening weekend, leading three times but ultimately having to settle for a share of the spoils in a 3-3 draw at home to Yokohama F Marinos.

Having suffered a shock defeat away to Buriram United of Thailand in the Asian Champions League in midweek, Kashiwa were quick to demonstrate that they had lost none of their mojo with an eye-pleasing opener on just three minutes. Jorge Wagner executed a spectacular scissor kick to cut back a lofted free kick from Leandro Domingues and into the path of Hiroki Sakai for his first ever J. League goal.

Masashi Oguro equalised soon afterwards with a close range volley that was every bit as impressive, but the hosts were back in front in still only the 12th minute thanks to a perfectly placed shot from new Japan international Junya Tanaka.

Returning to Marinos after a successful year on loan at Ehime FC, 21-year-old Manabu Saito then exhibited his exciting potential by firing home a second equaliser from just outside the box after three defenders had failed to stop his dribble from the right flank. Again, however, the visitors’ hard work was undone when they left Leandro far too much room to run and size up a delightful effort from 25 yards that left Hiroki Iikura stranded.

Yokohama thought they had levelled things up again when Oguro’s shot bounced off the crossbar and seemingly just behind the line, only for the officials to controversially signal play to continue. But their great persistence finally paid off in the second minute of stoppage time when substitute Hiroyuki Taniguchi got his head to a Yuzo Kobayashi cross to tie things up once again.

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Vissel Kobe laid down an early marker for supremacy in the Kansai region with a 3-2 win away to Gamba Osaka that was perhaps more comfortable than the final scoreline appears.

A woeful lack of coherency throughout the home eleven was well exemplified when Kobe new boy Takuya Nozawa slipped over in the penalty area, but was still granted enough time and space to stand up and square for an unmarked Yoshito Okubo to slot into the empty net.

Paulinho marked his Gamba debut with an impressive equaliser from 25 yards, but Nozawa set pieces laid on further goals for Okubo and Hideo Hashimoto – who left Banpaku after 14 years at the end of last season. A late rally saw Rafinha pull one back deep into added time.

Brazilian veteran Lucas hit a stunning winner from the D as J2 champions FC Tokyo, inspired by the heroics of goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda, celebrated their return to the top flight with a 1-0 victory at Omiya Ardija. Fellow promoted sides Consadole Sapporo and Sagan Tosu made steady starts with goalless draws at home to Jubilo Iwata and Cerezo Osaka, respectively.

A Joshua Kennedy penalty was sufficient to seal a 1-0 success for an influent Nagoya Grampus against Shimizu S-Pulse, while new Urawa Reds manager Mihalo Petrović and defender Tomoaki Makino suffered defeat by a similar scoreline in their first return to Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Elsewhere, Kawasaki Frontale beat Albirex Niigata 1-0, while a meeting of the two J1 clubs most directly affected by last year’s disaster saw Vegalta Sendai edge Kashima Antlers by the same score thanks to a headed goal from new arrival Taikai Uemoto.


TALKING POINTS
- Japan will renew their rivalry with last year’s Asian Cup final opponents Australia in the final round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Their group also contains Oman, Jordan, and Iraq – who are managed by former Samurai Blue boss Zico.
- FC Tokyo opened their ACL campaign with a 2-0 win away to Brisbane Roar on Tuesday, but there was disappointment elsewhere as Nagoya were pegged back to a 2-2 draw with Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, while Gamba were thrashed 3-0 at home by Pohang Steelers.
- Tokushima Vortis head the embryonic J2 table after a 3-0 victory over FC Gifu.


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


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


AFC Champions League group stage results (East Asia, matchday 1)
Group E
Gamba Osaka (JPN) 0-3 Pohang Steelers
Bunyodkor (UZB) 1-2 Adelaide United (AUS)

Group F
Brisbane Roar (AUS) 0-2 FC Tokyo (JPN)
Ulsan Hyundai (KOR) 2-1 Beijing Guoan (CHN)

Group G
Nagoya Grampus (JPN) 2-2 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (KOR)
Tianjin Teda (CHN) 0-0 Central Coast Mariners (AUS)

Group H
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR) 1-5 Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN)
Buriram United (THA) 3-2 Kashiwa Reysol (JPN)

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Monday 05 March 2012

Kashiwa take opening silverware as new boys struggle at J2 kickoff



J. League title holders Kashiwa Reysol clinched the first silverware of the new season with a 2-1 victory over Emperor’s Cup winners and J2 champions FC Tokyo in the Fuji Xerox Super Cup in the capital on Saturday.

Despite opening the game in rather sluggish fashion, Reysol took the lead after 26 minutes with a moment of inspiration from one of their Brazilian stars. Jorge Wagner collected the ball in midfield after a scrambled clearance from the back, and as the Tokyo defenders fatally stood off and allowed him time and space, the 33-year-old set his sights and fired beyond Hitoshi Shiota from almost 30 yards.

The advantage was doubled shortly before half time, after veteran forward Hideaki Kitajima was clumsily bundled over in the penalty area by Masato Morishige. Wagner’s compatriot Leandro Domingues made no mistake with the resulting spot kick, placing it calmly into the net high to the ’keeper’s right.

Tokyo earned a lifeline 20 minutes into the second period through new signing Aria Jasuru Hasegawa. The former Yokohama F Marinos midfielder saw his initial effort parried by Takanori Sugeno, but pounced to head home when Kashiwa defender Wataru Hashimoto failed to clear the rebound.

Ranko Popović’s side steadily recovered their momentum thereafter in search of an equaliser, but were unable to break down the champions’ resistance despite a lively cameo appearance from former Japan international Naotake Hanyu.

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The two newly-promoted sides from the third-tier Japan Football League (JFL) endured a tough start to life in the fully professional ranks as the J2 season kicked off on Sunday.

Matsumoto Yamaga, who finished fourth in the JFL last season, put up a determined showing in the first half of their trip to former Japanese champions Tokyo Verdy but were undone by two goals in seven minutes early in the second – Yuki Kobayashi and Josimar the scorers.

Meanwhile Machida Zelvia – now under the stewardship of Argentinean World Cup winner Osvaldo Ardiles following the departure of Popović to FC Tokyo – went down by another 2-0 scoreline away to Ehime FC.

Elsewhere, Ventforet Kofu and Avispa Fukuoka both made a good start in their bids to return to J1 at the first attempt – winning 2-1 at home to Tochigi SC and Roasso Kumamoto, respectively.

However, Montedio Yamagata were beaten 2-0 at JEF United Chiba.


TALKING POINTS
- Shinji Kagawa put the memories and jet lag of Japan’s midweek friendly defeat behind him to score the winning goal as Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund clinched a 2-1 victory at home to Mainz.
- Robert Cullen and Maya Yoshida both scored late on to dramatically turn a one-goal deficit into a 2-1 win for VVV Venlo over NAC Breda in the Dutch Eredivisie.
- The group stage of the AFC Champions League gets under way this week, with Gamba Osaka hosting Pohang Steelers of South Korea and FC Tokyo travelling to Brisbane Roar on Tuesday. Nagoya Grampus entertain Korean side Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma and Kashiwa Reysol visit Buriram United of Thailand on Wednesday.


Fuji Xerox Super Cup result
Kashiwa Reysol 2-1 FC Tokyo


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

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Wednesday 29 February 2012

Samurai Blue slip to Uzbekistan defeat in qualifying dead rubber



Football Japan’s Ben Mabley presents a quick report of Japan’s 1-0 home defeat to Uzbekistan on the final matchday in the third round of Asian qualification for the 2014 World Cup.

The Samurai Blue had already ensured their progression to the final round of qualifiers, but a lacklustre display saw them beaten to top spot in Group C by the Uzbeks, for whom the only goal came through Aleksandr Shadrin on 54 minutes.


FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifier results – AFC Third Round
Group C
Tajikistan 1-1 North Korea
Japan 0-1 Uzbekistan


Friendly results (Friday 24 February)
Japan 3
-1 Iceland

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