Marinos, Nagoya still perfect as cup group stage reaches midway point

Marinos, Nagoya still perfect as cup group stage reaches midway point

The J.League YBC Levain Cup group stage reached its midway point with the completion of Matchday 3, but what happened in that crucial matchday? Let’s check in on all the action:

Group A

Yokohama F·Marinos are still perfect and in complete control of Group A after another win, this time over Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo. The Tricolor actually conceded first, with Consa striking just six minutes in, but Marcos Júnior equalized in the 10th minute and an own goal proved to be enough to lift Marinos onto nine points from three matches.

With Consa falling in Yokohama, the door was open for Sagan Tosu or Júbilo Iwata to make up ground in the fight for second place. Anthony Akumu put Sagan in front, but Júbilo leveled in the 81st minute through Daiki Ogawa. It looked like the match was bound for a draw, but 20-year-old Ryonosuke Kabayama came off the bench to notch a late Sagan winner and put the club on four points, level with Consa for second in the group.

Group B

Shonan Bellmare took over the top spot in Group B after their first win of the competition. Bellmare got a goal from Akito Suzuki and two from Naoki Yamada to beat Shimizu S-Pulse, 3-0, and put them on five points in the group, one clear of the team they defeated.

Kawasaki Frontale and Urawa Reds had an opportunity to take over second place in the group if either could notch victories, but instead the two teams played to a scoreless draw so they remain behind first place Bellmare and second place S-Pulse.

Group C

Nagoya Grampus joined Marinos as the only teams with a perfect nine points from three matches with a 3-2 win over Yokohama FC that keeps them top of Group C, but it was not easy. The Fulie led, 2-0, before a penalty in first half stoppage time brought Nagoya within one goal. Then Kensuke Nagai equalized, setting up an 89th minute winner by Noriyoshi Sakai to complete the Grampus comeback.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima took over second place in the group with a dominant 5-0 victory over Vissel Kobe, as Makoto Mitsuta scored a pair to lead the way. The win put the Viola on six points, with the Ushi still on three and Yokohama FC still in search of their first point of the cup.

Group D

Albirex Niigata are the new top team in Group D after beating Kashiwa Reysol for their second straight win that put them on six points in the group. Eitaro Matsuda scored just six minutes then Yota Komi added another 10 minutes later as Albi cruised to a 2-0 win.

Kashima Antlers made Ryotaro Araki’s goal stand up as they took down Avispa Fukuoka, 1-0, to move level on four points with Avi for second place in the group. Reysol are bottom on two points.

Group E

Gamba Osaka rode a brace by Naohiro Sugiyama to a comfortable 3-0 win over F.C.Tokyo that has them sitting pretty atop the group on seven points.

Cerezo Osaka did not have a particularly nice day, losing to Kyoto Sanga, who scored four goals, went down to 10 men and still cruised to a 4-0 win. The Sakura are still second in the group on four points, but Sanga and F.C.Tokyo are a mere one point back in what is shaping up to be a heated fight to advance out of Group E.