For weeks, Kawasaki Frontale have seen their lead atop the 2021 MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE table decrease, with Yokohama F·Marinos closing down on them, but they hit back over the weekend. The champions beat Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, 2-0, while Marinos fell to Kashima Antlers by the same scoreline to put Kawasaki four points ahead of their title challengers.
Frontale entered the weekend without a win in three matches, and having just seen their 25-match unbeaten streak this season snapped. Combined with their lead atop the table down to just one point, they were desperate for a turn of form, and they got just that.
Yu Kobayashi, starting for the first time since his return from injury, got the champions going with some clever work in the 34th minute. He received a ball in the box, held off the defender, got himself a bit of space, and then expertly slid the ball right in the bottom corner.
Five minutes later, Kobayashi played the role of helper as he got down the right before crossing for Daiya Tono to tap in, and with that Frontale had themselves a crucial victory.
Hours later, Marinos had their 13-match unbeaten streak snapped as Ryotaro Araki and Ayase Ueda led Kashima to a 2-0 victory. The last time the Tricolor had dropped all three points in the league was back in mid-May, when Kashima beat them in their first fixture.
The gap is now back to four points, but with 11 more matches to play in the 2021 MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE and a meeting between these two sides on the final day of the season, the title race is far from over.