2014 J-League Division 1 – Round 32 recap

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A warm Autumn Saturday saw goals in each game and the title remain undecided, while Ventforet Kofu were the only club in the bottom third to climb out of the relegation fight and guarantee top flight football next year.

Kashima Antlers 2-1 Kawasaki Frontale

A looping strike from Yasushi Endo and a close-range header from Shuhei Akasaki on either side of halftime helped Kashima Antlers to a 2-1 victory over Kawasaki Frontale. The win sees Kashima closer to a place in the 2015 AFC Champions League and even remain in contention for the domestic title, while Frontale – who were only able to get a consolation goal through Renato in the dying moments – will have to ride luck in the remaining two games to steal the qualifying place.

Urawa Reds 0-2 Gamba Osaka

At a sold-out Saitama Stadium, Urawa Reds’ hopes of an early title were made to wait as Gamba Osaka struck with two late goals to close in on a potential title-snatch. An open game saw a glut of chances, with quality of finishing lacking and some eye catching saves at both ends, but an 88th minute counter attack saw Akihiro Sato slot home a winner before Shu Kurata sealed the win five minutes later. Gamba’s win shortens Reds’ lead to just two points, with two games remaining for the two teams to duke it out for the last of the single stage J-League titles.

Ventforet Kofu 2-0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima

Looking to bounce back from their heartbreaking Nabisco Cup Final loss to Gamba Osaka, defending J-League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima failed to do so with a 2-0 loss to Ventforet Kofu. After a scoreless first hour, goals from Hideomi Yamamoto and Ryohei Arai helped Hiroshi Jofuku’s men ensure safety from relegation.

Vissel Kobe 1-2 Yokohama F. Marinos

Mid-table Vissel Kobe and Yokohama F. Marinos played out a relatively tame 2-1 win to the visiting side. Sho Ito was there to tap in the rebound from Shingo Hyodo’s header, but Keijiro Ogawa beat Tetsuya Enomoto to the crossed ball to give Kobe an equaliser before halftime. Hyodo scored after halftime to give Yokohama the three points.

Tokushima Vortis 0-1 Sagan Tosu

Former Vitesse defender Michihiro Yasuda scored the game’s only goal as Sagan Tosu remained in mathematical contention for the J-League title. The loss also marks the already-relegated Tokushima’s 12th consecutive game without a win.

Vegalta Sendai 3-3 Cerezo Osaka

A goal in the 98th minute for Vegalta Sendai was waved offside as second-last Cerezo Osaka clawed back from a 2-0 deficit after 17 minutes to draw 3-3. Takuya Nozawa’s late run into the box gave Sendai the opener in the third minute of the match and their lead was doubled in the 17th minute when Shingo Akamine rose above the defence to head home from a corner kick. Stunning drives from Ramon Lopes and Cacau ended the scoring for both sides.

Omiya Ardija 1-2 Kashiwa Reysol

After some near-misses from both sides, Tetsuro Ota found space at an angle to squeeze the ball past Keiki Shimizu for the visitor’s first goal. Akihiro Ienaga failed to capitalise on a chance shortly after, but the home side found their equaliser when his cross was headed in by Koji Hashimoto just before halftime. Nelsinho Baptista’s men scored the winning goal four minutes into the second half as Leandro’s ball across the face of the goal was tapped in by fellow Brazilian striker Dudu. Ardija’s Carlinhos was shown a second yellow card for a reckless shoulder barge on Hidekazu Otani after 84 minutes, meaning he will miss his team’s crucial Round 33 encounter as they remain in the drop zone.

FC Tokyo 1-3 Albirex Niigata

Despite a season-high crowd of well over 40,000, an early opener from Hiroki Kawano wasn’t enough for FC Tokyo as Albirex Niigata outperformed the capital side. A through ball found Hiroshi Ibusuki after the half hour mark for Niigata’s equaliser, while a powerful free kick from Leo Silva put the away side ahead after 69 minutes. Kosuke Yamamoto capped off the win with a clever run to beat Yohei Tokunaga and find the back of the net.

Shimizu S-Pulse 2-2 Nagoya Grampus

Shimizu S-Pulse’s chances of avoiding relegation appeared to fade when a lofted pass from Marcus Tulio Tanaka found Ryota Tanabe to put Nagoya Grampus ahead. But the Shizuoka outfit found an equaliser nine minutes later when Milivoje Novakovic ran into the space left by an unorganised Nagoya defence. Kensuke Nagai put Nagoya ahead again from a corner kick, though a second yellow card to Yuki Honda allowed the hosts to capitalise on their extra man advantage, forcing an own goal out of Tulio. Shimizu’s Canadian defender Dejan Jakovic also earned a second yellow card at the end of the game, leaving both sides with 10 men at the final whistle.