Koroki slays former side Antlers as Reds go third

Koroki slays former side Antlers as Reds go third

Urawa Reds striker Shinzo Koroki came back to haunt Kashima Antlers on Saturday, scoring the winner against his old club as his side came away with a vital 2-1 win.

Mihailo Petrovic’s Reds faced the daunting trip to Kashima Stadium to play the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League second stage joint leaders, and any doubts about the difficulty of their tasks were erased as the hosts took a third minute lead through Yasushi Endo. 

Against the run of play, the first stage winners would equalise through Toshiyuki Takagi, before Antlers had a pair of goals disallowed amidst a flurry of chances.

Indeed, they were left to rue their inability to find a further breakthrough when Koroki, who switched to the Reds from Antlers in 2013, needed no invitation to bury the ball in the back of the net after Hitoshi Sogahata dropped a routine catch at his feet.

Another goalkeeping mistake at the other end almost allowed Antlers to equalise but Davi saw his resulting shot from an acute angle agonisingly trickle along the goal-line without crossing it.

The Reds’ displayed excellent grit to shut out the siege of Masatada Ishii’s desperate side, as the latter fall three points off the pace at the top of the second stage standings with leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima winning 5-1 at Shimizu S-Pulse.

Douglas needed just 19 minutes to give Hajime Moriyasu’s team the breakthrough at IAI Stadium when he raced clear of the defence to slot home; Hiroki Mizumoto doubling their advantage five minutes later.

The visitors were then made to endure a tense wait before they added to their tally - Chong Te-se halving S-Pulse’s deficit in the meantime - but Takuma Asano would once again pop up in decisive fashion with a brace this time.

Coming on right before the hour mark for Hisato Sato, the 20-year-old latched onto keeper Takuto Hayashi’s hoofed clearance before going clean through on goal and rounding Rikihiro Sugiyama for Sanfrecce’s third.

Barely five minutes had passed when Asano broke into the hosts’ penalty area and chipped Sugiyama this time, sealing a certain Sanfrecce win by then that Yoshifumi Kashiwa added the icing to with his superb solo goal in stoppages.

Determined not to be outdone, Gamba Osaka’s Hiroyuki Abe hit a double of his own in the Japanese champions’ 3-1 win over Kashiwa Reysol - his side leapfrogging the latter into third in the table.

Abe recorded his first with an excellent volley when he met Shu Kurata’s cross at the far post after half an hour, before turning calmly to score again only two minutes later. 
Cristiano then cooly dispatched a penalty to bring Reysol back into the mix, but Takashi Usami netted his 19th goal of the season after combining with Patric to make the result safe.

Yu Kobayashi likewise lit up the scoring charts with a pair of strikes that allowed Kawasaki Frontale to come from behind to win 2-1 at Albirex Niigata, propelling them sixth in the table and a single point behind regional rivals FC Tokyo, who defeated Matsumoto Yamaga 1-0.

Ryota Nagai’s stunning free-kick for Shonan Bellmare enabled his side to fight back to a 1-1 draw versus Yokohama F.Marinos, while Ventforet Kofu bagged a surprise victory at Sagan Tosu courtesy of Bare’s strike.

Bottom side Montedio Yamagata had kicked off the action on the day with a 1-1 draw with Vegalta Sendai, while Nagoya Grampus pulled up the rear with a 2-0 win over Vissel Kobe.

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