Antlers clinch First Stage title

Antlers clinch First Stage title

Kashima Antlers clinched the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League First Stage title after seeing off Avispa Fukuoka 2-0 on Saturday.

With runners-up Kawasaki Frontale also winning on the day, Antlers needed the victory and duly delivered against the bottom club.

Shuto Yamamoto struck in the first half to send Masatada Ishii’s men on their way, after which Shoma Doi wrapped up the result with a strike of his own 10 minutes later.

Frontale produced a 2-0 win of their own against last season’s J2 League winners Omiya Ardija but it was not enough for them to ascend to the top.

Shohei Otsuka and Kengo Nakamura struck either side of the break to still cap off the win in front of their own fans, in what has been a nevertheless excellent campaign from the side.

Gamba Osaka could have gone level on 26 points with Omiya but a 3-3 draw with Nagoya Grampus saw them drop two points, as Kengo Kawamata’s brace eventually proved decisive for the visitors.

The striker fired his side into the lead just three minutes into the match and it took until right before the break for Gamba to pull one back through Hiroyuki Abe.

Kim Jung-ya then notched his goal to put Kenta Hasegawa’s side in the lead, but the joy was short-lived when that man Kawamata popped up once more to equalise.

In a helter-skelter match, Yasuyuki Konno though he had struck the winner for Gamba 20 minutes later but he was mistaken as Kisho Yano fired in a matter of seconds after that to break the hosts’ hearts.

Urawa Reds meanwhile saw off Vissel Kobe 3-1 with Shinzo Koroki’s first-half brace and Tsukasa Umesaki’s strike five minutes from full-time enough to see off the visitors.

After a miserable start to the season, Japanese champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima at least finished the First Stage strong with a 3-0 win away to Ventforet Kofu, in what was an even game.

FC Tokyo pulled off a 1-0 smash-and-grab win in a backs-to-the-wall display at Yokohama F.Marinos, Sota Hirayama’s 89th-minute winner leaving a poor taste in the mouth of the Nissan Stadium faithful.

Albirex Niigata picked up a crucial relegation victory when they saw off Sagan Tosu 1-0, while Jubilo Iwata surged to a 3-0 victory against Sagan Tosu with Adailton’s brace.

Shonan Bellmare were unable to nick a precious away win at Kashiwa Reysol after Ariajasuru Hasegawa’s opener was cancelled out by Naoki Wako’s 95th-minute leveller in a 1-1 draw.