2015 J-League – First Stage Round 7 recap

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There was not a single scoreless draw to be found in any of Saturday or Sunday’s fixtures, with Urawa Reds maintaining top spot and Gamba Osaka giving chase.

Kashima Antlers 1-2 Vissel Kobe
(71′ Shibasaki / 49′ Ogawa, 77′ Tanaka)

Returning from their mid-week AFC Champions League win in Sydney’s west, Kashima Antlers played at home and fell to the sword of the fast-attacking Vissel Kobe.

After a fast-paced yet scoreless first half, Vissel finally found their opening goal minutes into the restart after Marinquinhos headed down Takahito Soma’s cross to give Keijiro Ogawa an open net to score.

Kashima appeared to have brought themselves back into the chase 71 minutes into the game, when Gaku Shibasaki played a one-two with Hiroyuki Takasaki at the edge of the box before sending a curling effort into the far corner with relative ease.

But Vissel Kobe would have the last say in the game six minutes later, when Hitoshi Sogata spilled his attempt to claim the ball from Marquinhos’ header into the path of Hideo Tanaka, who tapped the ball into the back of the net for all three points.

Matsumoto Yamaga 1-0 Vegalta Sendai
(60′ Iwakami)

J1 League newcomers Matsumoto Yamaga continued their impressive first season in the top flight with a scrappy yet hard-fought 1-0 win over Vegalta Sendai.

Yuzo Iwakami’s long throw-in almost resulted in an early goal for the home side, but Keita Goto’s header went wide of the post.

Despite a game full of near-misses, Iwakami came through at the hour mark when he received the ball in the penalty area and shrugged off three Vegalta defenders to turn and shoot emphatically past Yuji Rokutan and into the top corner.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-0 Shimizu S-Pulse
(29′ Chiba, 80′ Notsuda)

Sanfrecce Hiroshima marked their 1,000th goal with a 2-0 win over Shimizu S-Pulse, keeping themselves in the race for the First Stage title.

With a couple of frenetic attacks from both sides, it was a set piece that gave Sanfrecce the lead as Kosei Shibasaki sent his free kick from the left into the middle of the penalty area, where Kazuhiko Chiba peeled off the defence to find space to direct the ball home with a header.

As Sanfrecce started to impose themselves more on Shimizu, the away side brought on star striker Genki Omae in an attempt to stretch the defence. It almost paid off as Mitsunari Musaka got himself in a one-on-one chance, but couldn’t get his shot past the boot of Takuto Hayashi.

Gakuto Notsuda was going to be the final goalscorer, however, after Kazuyuki Morisaki won the ball in the Shimizu half and forced his way forward, before the ball dropped fortunately to Takuma Asano to allow him to pass to Gakuto Notsuda as the Shimizu defence split open for his run.

Yokohama F. Marinos 3-0 Shonan Bellmare
(9′ Ademilson, 85′ Saito, 90+4′ Tomisawa)

Yokohama F. Marinos got off to an early lead in the ‘Kanagawa Derby’ rivalry match, but left it late to secure all three points against last year’s second division champions.

A deft backheel from Shingo Hyodo left the ball in the path for Brazilian Ademilson to drive a low shot from outside the box into the corner for Yokohama’s opener.

Yota Akimoto made it difficult for Yokohama to double their lead, making a number of impressive saves before Yokohama and Japanese legend Shunsuke Nakamura returned to action after a lengthy injury to a standing ovation.

Yokohama returned to adding more goals to their scoreline in the 85th minute, after Takuya Kida won the ball in midfield and ran towards the box, sliding the ball across to Manabu Saito to strike across goal.

Wataru Endo came close to closing the gap in additional time, sending a long range drive into the crossbar, but Yokohama’s goal came just over a minute later, with Rafinha making a darting run towards the box from halfway and passing to Seitaro Tomisawa, who side-footed the ball into the net.

Sagan Tosu 1-1 Kashiwa Reysol
(81′ Toyoda / 54′ Leandro)

Lethal goalscorer Yohei Toyoda salvaged a point with a late goal against free-scoring AFC Champions League participants Kashiwa Reysol.

After starting the much stronger side and taking several chances that threatened to be goals, Sagan Tosu made a grave mistake and nearly gave away the opening goal in the 53rd minute, when goalkeeper Akihiro Hayashi dwelled on the back pass as Leandro closed him down and won the ball. Luckily for Hayashi, the ball rolled past the touchline before Leandro could get to it, but he wouldn’t have the same luck a minute later when Leandro received the ball in a crowd of Tosu players to turn and shoot into the top corner.

The Sagan Tosu attacks were in double digits before finding their equaliser, when Naoyuki Fujita sent in a free kick from the right to find Toyoda to deftly direct the ball narrowly inside the near post with his head.

Urawa Reds 2-1 Nagoya Grampus
(39′ Sekine, 52′ Muto / 90+3′ Tanaka)

Urawa Reds maintained their undefeated start to the season with a convincing 2-1 win over Akira Nishino’s Nagoya Grampus.

Unable to play through the Nagoya defence with goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki, Urawa had to force their way through and Takahiro Sekine managed to do just that in the 39th minute, receiving a misjudged clearing header to dribble across the defence to find an inch of space to squeezed the ball past Narazaki.

Yuki Muto continued his rise in a red shirt as the former Vegalta Sendai player chested home the second goal of the match after Umesaki’s cross from the right missed the entire Nagoya defence.

Despite several missed acrobatic chances by Muto and Zlatan Ljubijankic, Nagoya were the next to score with moments to spare after the ball was send back into the penalty area after failed corner kick for Teruki Tanaka to pounce and prevent a clean sheet for Shusaku Nishikawa.

Montedio Yamagata 0-1 FC Tokyo
(22′ Ota)

FC Tokyo edged out Montedio Yamagata with a first half goal to win 1-0 over the struggling promoted side.

Takuji Yonemoto almost put the capital club ahead when he fired his header toward the net from close range, but Takefumi Toma’s head was in its way.

Kosuke Ota put Tokyo ahead on 22 minutes when his long-range free kick from the right evaded all the running bodies and deceived Norihiro Yamagishi to find the back of the net.

Alceu earned a yellow card for his rough challenge from behind on Yoshinori Muto, which caught the ire of fellow Brazilian Diego Souza and created a small commotion between the two players.

Despite firing up the two Brazilian players, it wasn’t enough for Montedio to get themselves back into the game.

Kawasaki Frontale 3-0 Ventforet Kofu
(38′ Okubo, 59′ 90+2′ Renato)

Kawasaki Frontale opened up the Ventforet Kofu in a game full of action, as the home side ran out 3-0 victors and record their 100th home J1 win.

A series of short passes on the edge of the Kofu penalty area gave Kawasaki the opening goal, with Kengo Nakamura finding Yoshito Okubo teetering on the edge of the defensive line inside the area, who continued his lethal goal-scoring in the league with his shot going in off the upright.

Renato in the second half finished off a skillful attack that combined Ryota Oshima, a backheel from Okubo and a through pass from Nakamura for the Brazilian striker’s finish to be a guaranteed goal when the Kofu defence sent the ball in behind Taku Akahoshi.

Renato attempted to provide with a brilliant through ball to carve the Kofu defence to Okubo, but he couldn’t squeeze his shot past Akahoshi.

Nakamura was the player to provide the last pass for a goal on the night, as his pass from halfway sent Renato on a run that saw the Brazilian jink through the Kofu defence before slotting the ball inside the near post.

Gamba Osaka 2-1 Albirex Niigata
(48′ Usami, 83′ Patric / 66′ Leo Silva)

Gamba Osaka held off Albirex Niigata to put themselves in second place on the J-League ladder.

Takashi Usami gave himself a firm lead on the league goalscorer list early in the second half following Yasuhito Endo’s free kick, stealing the ball from behind after waiting for goalkeeper Tatsuya Morita to drop the ball and tucking it into the back of the net before Morita could react.

Leo Silva put Albirex back on level terms after the hour mark with an tantalising one-two combination with Musashi Suzuki inside the penalty area to break through the crowded Gamba defence and put the ball past Masaaki Higashiguchi.

Ryohei Yamazaki nearly gave Albirex the lead in the 74th minute, turning to deceive the Gamba defence before striking his off-balance shot into the crossbar. It would play into the hands of Gamba nine minutes later, with Shu Kurata playing a quick free kick into the box for Patric to chest down and put past Morita for the winning goal.