Mainz-bound Yoshinori Muto rose to joint-top of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League goalscoring charts on Sunday when he netted the winner in FC Tokyo’s 2-1 win at Matsumoto Yamaga.
The 22-year-old’s summer transfer to the Bundesliga was announced last weekend but that has not distracted him from his duties with the Japanese capital club, who he has tucked home winning penalties for in consecutive weeks now.
Kenta Hashimoto put Massimo Ficcadenti’s side ahead in the first half before Muto netted precisely from the spot, ensuring the outfit chasing AFC Champions League qualification secured a crucial win despite Yuki Okubo’s equaliser after the hour mark.
Muto’s rival Takashi Usami has failed to score for Gamba Osaka in three matches now, but the Japanese champions still managed to put the brakes on Urawa Reds’ first stage winners celebrations by drawing 0-0 with Vissel Kobe.
Mihailo Petrovic’s Reds are only a hair’s breadth away from being crowned top in the initial part of the season following their 1-0 victory over Shimizu S-Pulse however, with Shinzo Koroki’s left-footed drive from inside the box enough to bring first stage bragging rights closer yet.
The re-emergence of Sanfrecce Hiroshima ought to make the battle over the second stage intruiging though, Hajime Moriyasu’s team staying second on matchday 15 after a resolute 3-2 victory at Kashiwa Reysol.
Cristiano initially put the hosts ahead but Hisato Sato’s first-time finish and Douglas’ strike in the second half soon put Sanfrecce in control.
Hidekazu Otani thought he had salvaged Reysol a point in front of their fans when he netted an equaliser in the 86th minute, but an own-goal by Daisuke Suzuki gift-wrapped Sanfrecce’s win and left his team hovering right above the relegation zone.
Kashima Antlers - another participant in the ACL this term - likewise failed to find the breakthrough at Montedio Yamagata and were held to a 2-2 draw despite dominating in terms of chances.
Yasushi Endo’s 26th-minute opener was subsequently cancelled out by Diego and Shogo Nishikawa, and while Caio’s late equaliser ensured a share of the spoils, Antlers will be looking back with disappointment at an opportunity missed.
A team that had no trouble breaking the deadlock was Vegalta Sendai, with Hidetaka Kanazono impressing in a resounding 5-0 beating of Sagan Tosu.
The striker fired in a brace after Ryang Yong Gi opened the scoring to put the hosts in a commanding 3-0 lead after an hour, before a quickfire double by Takuya Nozawa and Kim Min Tae gave them their biggest margin of victory this term.
Ventforet Kofu kept up their excellent turnaround of four games unbeaten under Satoru Sakuma by holding Yokohama F.Marinos to a 1-1 draw, with the game between Albirex Niigata and Nagoya Grampus finishing by the same score.
Meanwhile, Kawasaki Frontale got back to winning ways but had to endure going 1-0 down in the fourth minute at home to Shonan Bellmare before Yoshito Okubo and Elsinho turned things around in the second half for a 2-1 victory.