Antlers ascend to top of J1 League

Antlers ascend to top of J1 League

Kashima Antlers have moved top of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League following their 2-1 win at Vissel Kobe on Saturday.

Masatada Ishii’s men went down first in the tie at Noevir Stadium as Kunie Kitamoto struck the opener for the hosts.

But Japan’s most successful club rallied and Shoma Doi equalised right before half time, before Yasushi Endo netted the winner five minutes after the break.

Kawasaki Frontale would have retaken the lead in the league but they slipped up against bottom side Avispa Fukuoka, needing to come back from two goals down to draw 2-2.

Takeshi Kanamori netted twice in a devastating six-minute spell in the opening 15 minutes of the game, leaving the visitors chasing the game.

Frontale had Yu Kobayashi and Yasuhito Okubo to thank – both scored either side of the break – for ensuring they kept a share of the spoils, however, as they remain within touching distance off the top.

Watching from the unfamiliar position of mid-table, Sanfrecce Hiroshima clawed themselves into fourth place and within a point of Urawa Reds with a 4-2 win over the third-placed outfit.

It was a crucial win secured by Tsukasa Shiotani’s brace as well as strikes from Kosei Shibasaki and Hisato Sato – although they were made to suffer as Mihailo Petrovic’s side temporarily took the lead.

Takahiro Sekine and Tomoya Ugajin struck in the first half to ensure the Reds went into the break holding a 2-1 advantage, but Hajime Moriyasu’s side rallied to ensure they are on course to qualify for the AFC Champions League next season.

Shiotani bagged his first after the hour mark and added his second shortly after, before Sanfrecce idol Sato ensured all three points went to the home side.

There was no happy ending for Gamba Osaka, however, as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat to relegation battlers Sagan Tosu despite taking the lead through Takashi Usami.

Usami netted in the 44th minute but his exploits could not match Daichi Kamada’s, who struck twice in quick succession in the 51st and 52nd minute to hand Sagan a precious win.

FC Tokyo and Albirex Niigata cancelled each other out in a 1-1 draw at Ajinomoto Stadium meanwhile, while Vegalta Sendai took a 2-1 result against Ventforet Kofu.

Kashiwa Reysol will rue not being able to beat Nagoya Grampus despite having the majority of the game in a 1-1 stalemate, as Shonan Bellmare saw off Jubilo Iwata 1-0 thanks to Jin Hanato’s 17th-minute winner.

At NACK5 Stadium Omiya, Yokohama F.Marinos needed a 90th-minute equaliser from Takumi Shimohira to draw 1-1 versus Omiya Ardija.