2015 J-League – First Stage Round 11 Recap

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A full nine rounds of matches were played on Mother’s Day to large crowds, with Urawa Reds keeping their spot at the top of the table despite having played one game less than most of the league and having to settle for a draw against a desperate Vegalta Sendai.

Nagoya Grampus 0-1 Kawasaki Frontale
(45+1′ Okubo)

Yoshito Okubo continued his fine vein of scoring with a solitary goal in Kawasaki Frontale’s 1-0 away to the mid-table Nagoya Grampus.

Nagoya came closest in the early stages, with Marcus Tulio Tanaka heading inches wide after making a run to outjump fellow Grampus player Milivoje Novakovic to the ball.

Kawasaki earned their lead with a goal just before halftime, when Renato led a four-on-four attack, playing a pass across the defence to Tombense loanee Elsinho, whose centred pass met the sliding boot of Okubo.

Okubo nearly found a second within a minute of the start of the second half, but his shot following a string of passes from the possession-focused Frontale blazed just wide of the upright.

Renato also came close on multiple occasions as Frontale continued to outnumber the Nagoya defence, but couldn’t manage to do further damage to Akira Nishino’s men.

Montedio Yamagata 3-0 Kashiwa Reysol
(22′ Frank, 45+2′ & 74′ Diego)

Newly-promoted Montedio Yamagata emphatically saw off ACL participants Kashiwa Reysol with a 3-0 victory to pry themselves away from the bottom of the table.

Romero Frank put the underdogs ahead with a well-placed shot from outside the box after Kodai Watanabe deflected a corner kick into the Peruvian’s path.

Brazilian Diego Souza then scored a brace, finding his first after a one-two with Ryohei Hayashi gave him only Takanori Sugeno to beat. His second came in a corner kick straight off the training pitch, when he and four other Yamagata players made a timed run for Tatsuya Ishikawa’s kick and left the 31-year-old to tap home after Takefumi Toma’s header was palmed away by Sugeno.

Yokohama F. Marinos 1-0 Albirex Niigata
(61′ Mikado)

Yokohama F. Marinos saw off a struggling Albirex Niigata in front of 19,784 at Nissan Stadium, leaving Niigata sitting second-last on the table.

With both sides looking for a win out of the match, it became a relatively even affair and the home side only managed one more attempt at goal overall.

Erick Mombaerts’s side found its goal just after the hour mark, when Kosuke Nakamachi played a ball through the legs of Kentaro Oi to Yuta Mikado for a finish into the far post.

Ventforet Kofu 0-1 Shonan Bellmare
(50′ Otsuki)

Last season’s second division champions Shonan Bellmare continued the misery for bottom-of-the-table Ventforet Kofu with a 1-0 away win.

Shuhei Otsuki put the visitors ahead when he received Yuto Misao’s pass at the edge of the box and launched a rocket past Kota Ogi between the sticks.

Shonan were made to absorb Kofu’s attacks from that point and, despite 14 shots to Shonan’s seven and 21 free kicks to boot, Kofu were unable to get themselves back in the contest.

Vegalta Sendai 4-4 Urawa Reds
(8′ Kim, 60′ Okuno, 66′ Watanabe, 80′ Ryang / 45+1′ Abe, 55′ & 82′ Koroki, 56′ Sekine)

Table-toppers Urawa returned from their midweek Champions League victory against Brisbane Roar to come back twice to draw 4-4 in a dramatic match against Vegalta Sendai.

Despite ten of Urawa’s starting members having a week-long rest from their last match, they found themselves behind within 20 minutes, when Kim Min-tae started and finished off a counter attack, getting on the end of Takuya Nozawa’s deep cross.

Urawa quickly gained control of the match and their 79% possession in the first half paid off after the regulation 45 minutes, as captain Yuki Abe drilled home a rebound from Yosuke Kashiwagi’s corner kick, watching the ball go in as it deflected off the legs of two Sendai players.

A quickfire double early into the second half made it appear Urawa would quickly cruise to victory. Substitute Shinzo Koroki gave the lead with a header at the back post from Abe’s flick-on of the corner kick, while Takahiro Sekine doubled the lead a minute later when he pounced on the rebound from Yuji Rokutan’s save of Tadanari Lee’s angled shot.

Vegalta Sendai were determined to pull themselves back into the match and did just that with three goals in reply. The first two to level the scores came within ten minutes, as substitute Hiroaki Okuno jumped to action Naoki Sugai’s header landed in space in the penalty area and Ryang Yong-gi delivered a corner kick to the head Hirofumi Watanabe, who flicked it on to Okuno for his second.

Tomoaki Makino almost put the visitors ahead again with a long-range shot that was denied by the inside of the upright, while Vegalta went ahead once again to add to the drama after Ryang played his way past two Urawa defenders inside the penalty area with a single touch before finding the net.

The scoring wasn’t over, though, with Koroki finding the net once again from a cut back by former Vegalta youngster Yuki Muto to see both side share the spoils in epic fashion.

Sagan Tosu 1-1 Matsumoto Yamaga
(90′ Kamada / 65′ Okubo)

It was honours even at Best Amenity Stadium as Matsumoto Yamaga continued proving their credentials in the top flight at the first time of asking with a 1-1 draw away to Sagan Tosu.

Despite a few early chances for Matsumoto Yamaga, the first hour went by scoreless, including a disallowed goal by Obina as the striker was caught offside when heading in a deep cross at the near post. Taku Akahoshi was also forced to make a brilliant fingertip save on Yuzo Iwakami’s angled shot, while Obina later failed to head home from less than a metre out, with his header from Iwakami’s corner hitting the underside of the bar.

Matsumoto put themselves ahead in the 64th minute through Yuki Okubo, with the defender finding himself in the box at a set piece from the halfway line to head in Masaki Iida’s flick-on.

As Sagan Tosu pushed for an equaliser, it looked like it almost wouldn’t come until they finally found one in the final minute of regulation time, when Daichi Kamada drove a low shot to the inside of the far post as the Matsumoto defence watched on.

FC Tokyo 0-1 Kashima Antlers
(34′ Doi)

Kashima Antlers continued their league mastery over FC Tokyo with a narrow 1-0 win in front of a sold out Ajinomoto Stadium crowd.

After blunting Tokyo’s usually-strong attack, the visitors took the lead in the 34th minute through a skillful second effort by Shoma Doi, whose grounder following a clearance attempt went inside the far post just past the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda.

Tokyo manager Massimo Ficcadenti made two key changes at half time, replacing ineffective striker Hiroki Kawano with Ryoichi Maeda and midfielder Naotake Hanyu with Hideto Takahashi.

The double-substitution kick-started the Tokyo offence for an exciting second half, but the hosts were unlucky to find an equaliser and saw their four-game winning streak come to a halt.

Vissel Kobe 1-2 Shimizu S-Pulse
(29′ Musaka (OG) / 15′ Duke, 70′ Omae)

Struggling Shimizu S-Pulse found their first win since opening day against an underwhelming Vissel Kobe side.

The game’s first goal came in the 14th minute when Australian import Mitchell Duke opened his J1 League account. S-Pulse’s joy was short-lived, however, as a Mitsunari Musaka own goal just 15 minutes later allowed the hosts back into the match.

The game-winner came in the 70th minute courtesy of S-Pulse ace striker Genki Omae, who sent a brilliant free kick into the back of the net for his sixth of the season and a crucial three points for the visitors, who now sit in 15th place just above the drop zone.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0-1 Gamba Osaka
(60′ Lins)

A surging Gamba Osaka overtook Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the J1 standings with a 1-0 away win to end the day’s festivities.

The hosts were on the attack for much of the scoreless first half, with midfielder Kohei Shimizu directly involved in many of their goal-scoring opportunities.

But the J1 champions, found the game’s lone goal when Brazilian striker Lins headed in the ball following a free kick in Sanfrecce territory on the hour mark.

Hajime Moriyasu’s men pushed for an equaliser for the remaining 30 minutes, peppering the Gamba goal with a total of 18 shots over the course of the match to the visitors’ seven. But Lins’ header turned out to be the decider, putting the ACL Group F winners in third place with a game in hand.