Midweek action forced rotation in many squads, but the reserves did well across the board as early goals were the name of the game in a lot of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE Matchweek 8 contests.
Kawasaki Frontale 1, Sagan Tosu 0
The vaunted Sagan Tosu defense was doing their job against the unstoppable Frontale attack. They largely kept the champions at bay and, when needed, Park Il-Gyu came to their rescue in goal. And on the one occasion Park was beaten, Shinya Nakano made a spectacular goal line clearance. But a 57th minute red card to Masaya Tashiro broke the Sagan defense and just a few minutes later Daiya Tono scored what proved to be the winning goal as Frontale maintained their grip on the top spot in the table.
Yokohama F·Marinos 1, Cerezo Osaka 0
Two red hot teams meeting, both with lofty ambitions this season? Yeah, this one was set up to be great and it was every bit as entertaining as expected. Marinos nearly scored within five minutes, but then Cerezo took control, getting in the Marinos box and also nearly scoring on an audacious half-field attempt from Hiroshi Kiyotake. The match even out in the second half as the two teams traded looks at goal in a high paced contest, with Marinos especially unlucky as the league’s joint-leading scorer Daizen Maeda struggled to find the frame. It appeared as if the two sides would have to split points, but the substitution of Ado Onaiwu proved to turn the match Marinos’ way in the 87th minute. A mad scramble in the box for a loose ball off a corner kick saw Marinos doing anything possible to shoot it and Cerezo desperately attempting to clear it, but Onaiwu was finally able to get his foot to it and blast it into the back of the net. Nissan Stadium went wild and Marinos had snatched the full three points as they continued their run up the table.
F.C.Tokyo 2, Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo 1
A match molded by red cards turned into a 10v10 battle at Ajinomoto Stadium. Tsuyoshi Watanabe was the first sent off in the 29th minute for the denial of a goal-scoring opportunity, then Kim Min-Tae met the same fate for the same offense in the 59th minute. That really kicked off the match as Diego Oliveira got on the end of the ensuing free kick to give F.C.Tokyo the lead. Oliveira struck again minutes later when he drew a foul in the box and, after the referee pointed to the spot, buried the spot kick. Anderson Lopes did his best to give Sapporo a chance late on with his league-leading seventh goal, but that wasn’t enough as the home side won the 10-man contest.
Kashima Antlers 2, Kashiwa Reysol 1
Kashima came out playing spectacularly and nearly scored on several occasions in the first half. They were unlucky not to have a lead come the hour mark, but they finally went ahead when Juan Alano played a gorgeous ball in for Ayase Ueda, who rounded the goalkeeper and scored. The goal woke Reysol up and just minutes later Hayato Nakama found the back of the net to equalize. That level score lasted until the 88th minute when Ryohei Shirasaki ran onto a drag back and hit a shot that made it through traffic before finding the goal for the winner.
Shonan Bellmare 0, Nagoya Grampus 0
Nagoya went to Hiratsuka and took it to Shonan Bellmare from the jump. They had all the play in the early going and that only became more pronounced when Hidetoshi Miyuki was shown a second yellow card just before halftime. By the end of the match, Nagoya had a 15-3 edge in shots and 73% of the possession, but it didn’t matter because they couldn’t break through. Shonan Bellmare barely hung on and split the points in the end.
Yokohama FC 0, Sanfrecce Hiroshima 3
Yuya Asano stole the show in a dominant performance by Sanfrecce. He struck first with a gorgeous spinning pass at the top of the box, then got the ball right back before curling the ball just inside the post for his first goal. 15 minutes later he capitalized on some sloppy play from Yokohama and scored his second. Kosei Shibasaki got in on the action with a beautiful effort from 20 yards that made it 3-0 and wrapped up a phenomenal showing from the visitors.
Vissel Kobe 1, Oita Trinita 0
The deciding moment at Noevir Stadium Kobe came early as Hotaru Yamaguchi floated a cross to the front of goal where Kyogo Furuhashi, facing away from goal, hit a beautiful flicked header that found the back of the net. From there, it was just about defending well for Vissel and they did just that. They limited Trinita to four shots and generally kept them out of the box to pick up a clinical three points and jump to third in the table.
Gamba Osaka 0, Avispa Fukuoka 0
Gamba Osaka’s second match back from a month-long COVID pause was better than their first. They were bright and energetic from the start and nearly scored several goals, but Masaaki Murakami played excellently in goal and kept Fukuoka level. The visitors got better later on and created a couple of chances of their own, but it was still in Gamba’s hands. Unfortunately for them, they were unable to find the goal and had to settle for their second straight draw, but the performance was better and there’s plenty of reason to believe they’ll be able to compete near the top of the table as expected.
Shimizu S-Pulse 0, Urawa Reds 2
Urawa went away and scored goals on each side of the break to take home a fairly clinical three points. It was Takuya Iwanami who struck first, getting on the end of a corner hit and heading the ball firmly past the goalkeeper for the opening tally. Kenyu Sugimoto then put the match to bed late on with a sensational volley from 15 yards at a full sprint as Urawa did what they had to do at the front and back in an impressive away performance.
Tokushima Vortis 1, Vegalta Sendai 0
Vortis have been aggressive in their first season back in the top flight, and that continued on Wednesday. They flew forward at every opportunity and probably should have scored multiple goals from corner kicks early on, but the woodwork and goal line clearances denied them. Even when they did break through, on a corner kick of course, it looked like they had been denied once again by a terrific Jakub Słowik save, but Takeru Kishimoto knocked the rebound home and the home side had their precious goal. Vegalta Sendai nearly scored a late equalizer, but it was not to be as the visitors slumped to their sixth consecutive defeat, while Vortis’ bright start has them in the top half of the table.