2015 J1-League – First Stage Round 2 recap

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After an action-packed first round of action for the new season became a goalfest, the second round was much more subdued with Yokohama F. Marinos and Albirex Niigata both picking up their first points of the year in scoreless draws.

Kashiwa Reysol 1-1 Vegalta Sendai
(89′ Suzuki / 31′ Watanabe)

Kashiwa Reysol scraped a point from 10-man Vegalta Sendai, leaving it late to equalise after succumbing to a first half goal from the visitors in a Friday match to accommodate Reysol’s AFC Champions League commitments.

Hirofumi Watanabe opened the scoring just after the half hour mark, volleying North Korea captain Ryang Yong-Gi’s corner kick after being found unmarked in front of Takanori Sugeno.

Daisuke Suzuki was caught in controversy when his studs scraped across Naoki Ishikawa’s cheek during an attempted overhead kick, earning the Kashiwa defender a yellow card. Vegalta striker Ramon Lopes earned his marching orders with a second yellow after he was adjudged to have impeded the path of Suzuki.

Kashiwa eventually found their equaliser through Suzuki with minutes to spare, when Kentaro Seki failed to deal with Kim Chang-soo’s deep cross and allowed the defender to poke the ball into the net.

Albirex Niigata 0-0 Shimizu S-Pulse

A fine performanced by S-Pulse goalkeeper Masatoshi Kushibiki saw his side take a point from Denka Swan Stadium against the dominant hosts.

Just under 20,000 fans were on hand to watch the scoreless draw, which saw Albirex pressure with 12 corner kicks to just one for the visitors.

Kashima Antlers 1-2 Shonan Bellmare
(13′ Kanazaki / 55′ Endo (PG), 90+1′ Alison)

Pre-season J-League favourites Kashima Antlers once again failed to pick up points, this time wasting an early lead against newly-promoted Shonan Bellmare.

Yasushi Endo came close to opening the scoring for the home side in the eighth minute with a curling shot that hit the post, but Mu Kanazaki eventually put them ahead in the 14th minute, slotting home Hiroyuki Takasaki’s pass into the far side of the net.

The tide turned in the second half, after long-time captain Mitsuo Ogasawara brought down Wataru Endo with a shoulder barge just inside the penalty area, which was struck by the young defender with confidence into the top corner of the net.

Despite Kashima’s attempts to break down Bellmare’s defence and a shot by Yasushi Endo tipped onto the crossbar by Yota Akimoto, Bellmare got their winning goal right at the death as substitute Alison headed in a cross from the right. The Brazilian’s second yellow card moments later marred what was otherwise a superb performance off the bench.

FC Tokyo 0-0 Yokohama F. Marinos

Massimo Ficcadenti’s Tokyo side earned their second point of the season in a scoreless draw against struggling F. Marinos in a match attended by newly-appointed coach Vahid Halilhodzic.

The match marked the J-League debut of Marinos striker Ademilson, who arrived on loan from Sao Paulo last week.

Neither side had many opportunities to score in the first half, and Tokyo striker Yoshinori Muto’s best opportunity came in the 52nd minute when his well-played header was deflected out by the crossbar.

Just minutes later, Tokyo defender Shuichi Gonda made two impressive saves against Shingo Hyodo and Manabu Saito to keep the visitors off the Ajinomoto Stadium scoreboard, and the result left Ficcadenti and new Yokohama manager Erick Mombaerts still seeking their first win of 2015.

Ventforet Kofu 1-0 Nagoya Grampus
(80′ Abe)

Gritty Ventforet Kofu earned three home points thanks to Shohei Abe’s effort in the 80th minute.

The Yamanashi Prefecture outfit nearly took the lead in the 25th minute when Sho Inagaki failed to connect with Adriano’s cross in front of the Grampus goal.

The visitors pushed back in the second half, with former Standard Liege striker Kensuke Nagai hitting the post with his own effort. A minute later, Grampus defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka couldn’t control a well-placed corner kick after it reached the far post.

The decisive score came from former Grampus defender Abe, whose free kick from just outside the area curled above the wall and into the upper right-hand corner of the net to send the home crowd into a frenzy.

Urawa Reds 1-0 Montedio Yamagata
(83′ Abe)

Urawa Reds continued their domestic league success with another win against another promoted side in Montedio Yamagata, featuring the home side’s former goalkeeper Norihiro Yamagishi.

Despite controlling most of the game in front of over 40,000 people, Urawa struggled to create real opportunities for themselves. The solitary goal of the match came from a stunning strike by Yuki Abe, who charged forward to half-volley a cleared cross into the top corner of the net in the 83rd minute.

Kawasaki Frontale 2-2 Vissel Kobe
(59′ Okubo, 74′ Renatinho / 30′ Watanabe, 72′ Takahashi)

Kawasaki Frontale opened the rebuilt main stand at Todoroki Stadium with plenty of fireworks on the pitch in a wild 2-2 draw with Vissel Kobe.

After Kazuma Watanabe’s goal on the half hour sent Vissel into the locker room with the lead, a controversial goal by Yoshito Okubo drew the hosts even.

The two-time Golden Boot winner’s header was deflected by a defender and rebounded off the bottom of the crossbar before falling straight down onto the line; referee Yoshiro Imamura whistled a goal for Frontale despite the ball not appearing to have crossed the line.

Vissel’s Shohei Takahashi retook the lead in the 72nd minute, but Frontale striker Renato was quick to equalise to send the two sides off the pitch honours even.

Sagan Tosu 1-0 Gamba Osaka
(49′ Baek)

A Baek Sung-Dong goal just after halftime gave hosts Sagan Tosu the edge over a profligate Gamba side.

The league holders nearly got off to a flying start in the first minute when Takashi Usami barreled down the right side of the area and crossed to Patric, whose empty-net shot went wide. The Brazilian struggled to put the ball on target as the first half ended scoreless.

Just one minute into the second half, Kei Ikeda centered the ball for 23-year-old Baek to deliver the lone goal of the match and give Gamba their fourth loss in five competitive matches this year.

Matsumoto Yamaga 1-2 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
(12′ Obina (PG) / 7′ Kashiwa, 45′ Morisaki)

A sold-out Alwin Stadium played host to the first J1 home game of Matsumoto Yamaga, who were unable to record their first top flight victory.

It took just seven minutes for Yoshifumi Kashiwa to open scoring with a narrow-angled strike from the far post that slipped past the goalkeeper. Yamaga equalized five minutes later on an Obina penalty kick.

In the end it was Sanfrecce who went home with three points after Koji Morisaki’s free kick on the verge of halftime sailed over the wall and was deflected by a Yamaga defender into the net.

(This recap was compiled by Ryan Steele and Dan Orlowitz)