Inclement weather across Japan
saw nine games played in wet conditions on Wednesday night, with fans braving the conditions to enjoy the J-League
’s 29th round.
Urawa Reds 0-0 Ventforet Kofu
19,977 travelled to a drizzly Saitama Stadium to watch league leaders Urawa Reds turn out a scoreless draw against relegation contenders Ventforet Kofu. A 36th minute injury to Quirino forced an early substitution to bring on the veteran Kohei Morita, but it wasn’t until the introduction of Cristiano and his runs behind Urawa’s high line that Kofu looked to really threaten the Reds’ home record. Kofu goalkeeper Kota Ogi had a fine game, making several fine saves to maintain a valuable clean sheet.
Kashiwa Reysol 1-0 Gamba Osaka
Gamba Osaka travelled to the Hitachi Stadium to face Kashiwa Reysol in the hopes of continuing their successful rise up the league table. Leandro was brought down by Iwashita in what looked to be a penalty shout in the 14th minute, but it was waved off by the referee to the anger of Reysol coach Nelsinho. A tense first half resulted in three substitutions between the two sides at half time, but the first and only goal of the game didn’t arrive until the ball landed generously for Tetsuro Ota to score in the final minute of regulation time. Gamba showed their frustration when Iwashita received a straight red in the third minute of additional time for a dangerous diving tackle.
Shimizu S-Pulse 2-1 Albirex Niigata
Shimizu S-Pulse were able to climb out of the relegation zone with a late win against the mid-tablers. The hosts got off to an ideal start when a 12th minute corner was headed to the far post by Hiraoka for Ishige, with plenty of narrow misses for both sides ensuing in the following hour of the match. Albirex found their equaliser when Yuki Kobayashi crossed to the far post for a poorly marked Kentari Oi to head past Masatoshi Kushibiki. But the home crowd left IAI Stadium with smiles on their faces after substitute Kazuya Murata was able to find Novakovic with a squared ball to score in the 90th minute after Albirex’s Michael James was unable to clear.
Nagoya Grampus 0-0 Vegalta Sendai
A meagre 5,599 visited the Mizuho Stadium to see mid-table Nagoya Grampus and Vegalta Sendai grind out a scoreless draw. A ninth-minute injury to Brazilian striker Wilson forced Vegalta to an early change of plans as they brought on veteran striker Atsushi Yanagisawa. Grampus were able to get a firm footing in the second half and ended the game with 20 attempts at goal, but were unable to make their dominance count for anything more than a single point.
Vissel Kobe 0-0 Kashima Antlers
Kashima Antlers were able to maintain their fourth place position after a tight 0-0 draw at Vissel Kobe. Marquinhos was a threat for the home side, but received a yellow card in the 77th minute for simulation against Kashima captain Mitsuo Ogasawara. The other controversy of the game came during a Kashima free kick, in which Ogasawara argued with and shoved Jorge Wagner over who would take the attempt.
Omiya Ardija 2-3 Yokohama F. Marinos
Omiya Ardija were host to Yokohama F. Marinos in a goal-filled game that saw the Yokohama side return to Kanagawa with a fortunate victory. Takumi Shimohira opened the scoring for the away side just before the half hour mark, rising over the crowd to head home at the near post. Chikashi Masuda equalized for Ardija less than 10 minutes later and Mrdja put the hosts in front at the 50 minute mark, but his goal was quickly cancelled out when an unmarked Yuhei Sato headed in Shunsuke Nakamura’s cross. Marinos sealed the win two minutes into injury time, when Nakamura found Yoshihito Fujita in the box.
FC Tokyo 2-1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Ajinomoto Stadium was host of an entertaining match between FC Tokyo and Sanfrecce Hiroshima, with the home side running away with a win over the defending J.League champions. Kazuma Watanabe opened the scoring in the 25th minute, but the home side became nervous when national team defender Masato Morishige gave away a penalty with his foul on Tsukasa Shiotani in the box. Hisato Sato’s effort from the spot was saved by Shuichi Gonda, keeping the capital side ahead at the half time mark. Sato finally equalized for Sanfrecce in the 55th minute, but new Japan star Yoshinori Muto was the hero as he continued his fine form with a 74th-minute goal to see Hiroshima drop to 9th place on the table.
Kawasaki Frontale 2-0 Sagan Tosu
Kawasaki Frontale and Sagan Tosu switched places on the J.League table to 3rd and 5th respectively at rain-soaked Todoroki Stadium. Following a scoreless first half, captain Yusuke Tanaka’s first goal of the season got the Kanagawa side ahead. Sagan were left with 10 men after midfielder Naoyuki Fujita received two yellow cards in three minutes, and Yu Kobayashi added to the hosts’ scoreline shortly after the hour mark for his 11th goal of the season.
Cerezo Osaka 3-1 Tokushima Vortis
Bottom-of-the-table Tokushima Vortis faced 17th-place Cerezo Osaka in the hopes that they could stave off guaranteed relegation for at least one more round. The visitors got off to a very promising start when Yu Eto fired home in the eighth minute, but their chances for a win were washed away just seven minutes later by Toru Hasegawa’s own goal. Jumpei Kusukami and Cacau completed the 3-1 victory for a Cerezo side who took the pitch without Diego Forlan, sealing relegation for Tokushima Vortis in the process.