Marinos take over first place as Antlers, Frontale stumble

Marinos take over first place as Antlers, Frontale stumble

There’s a new team atop the table in the Meiji Yasuda J1 League.

Losses by Kashima Antlers and Kawasaki Frontale opened the door for Yokohama F·Marinos over the weekend and the Tricolor took full advantage, planting their flag at the J1 summit with a 2-0 win at Júbilo Iwata.

Marinos had to get the job done away from home, but they were dominant from the start and finally broke through in the 55th minute through Teruhito Nakagawa. Free on the back post, Nakagawa brought a cross down and banged it into the back of the net.

It was a vintage finish from the 2019 MVP, who then played the role of provider when he hit a great cross that Leó Ceará met with a terrific header to double the Tricolor advantage.

The Marinos victory gave Yokohama sole possession of first place after a week of struggles for both Kashima and Kawasaki. The Antlers entered the matchweek in first but were stunned in Tokyo, losing 3-1 in a match that the capital club dominated.

Frontale didn't fare much better in Kyoto, stifled by Sanga and putting the ball in their own net for the only tally in a 1-0 loss — their second of the week.

It is now looking like a three-team race for the title, with Marinos endeavoring to avenge last season’s heartbreaking second-place finish, Kashima trying for a ninth title, and Frontale going for an incredible fifth crown in six years.

What a title race it’s shaping up to be.