J1 Matchweek 33 Recap: Title race set for epic conclusion

J1 Matchweek 33 Recap: Title race set for epic conclusion

The penultimate week of the Meiji Yasuda J1 League was full of action, but brought little clarity. The title was not decided, nor were two of the relegation places or the AFC Champions League spots. It’s all to play for in the final week of the season, so what happened in Matchweek 33 to get us there?

Yokohama F·Marinos 4, Urawa Reds 1

Élber and Anderson Lopes each scored braces as Marinos cruised to victory. The win put the Tricolor in position to win the league and would have claimed the crown if Frontale dropped points.

Kawasaki Frontale 2, Vissel Kobe 1

Marcinho’s opener was answered by a terrific Yuki Kobayashi free kick, endangering Frontale because a draw would have been enough to hand Marinos the title. Frontale needed to find a winner and they did when Yu Kobayashi was fouled at the edge of the box for a penalty that Akihiro Ienaga would convert for the win that keeps the gap at two going into the final day.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1, Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo 2

The Viola failed to clinch third place and an AFC Champions League place as goals by Shinzo Koroki and Hiroki Miyazawa led Consa to a win that not only dealt Sanfrecce a blow, but officially assured the men from Sapporo of another season in the top flight.

Kyoto Sanga 0, Cerezo Osaka 0

Neither side could find a way through in Kyoto, as Sanga failed to get the three points that would keep them out of the relegation zone and dropped to 16th place.

Shimizu S-Pulse 0, Kashima Antlers 1

A Kento Misao goal was enough to put Kashima into the win column and drop S-Pulse down to an automatic relegation place, endangering their top flight chances for next season.

Nagoya Grampus 2, F.C.Tokyo 1

Noriyoshi Sakai and Kensuke Nagai scored to earn Nagoya their first win in their last six tries.

Avispa Fukuoka 2, Kashiwa Reysol 1

Yuya Yamigishi scored after four minutes and Juanma added another as Avispa took a crucial three points that lifted them out of the drop zone.

Shonan Bellmare 3, Sagan Tosu 0

Shuto Machino notched a brace to earn Shonan a massive three points in their relegation fight and take him to 12 goals on the season, second-most in the league.

Gamba Osaka 2, Júbilo Iwata 0

Yasuhito Endo’s return to Panasonic Stadium Suita did not end happily for the legendary midfielder, as two second half goals moved Gamba out of the bottom three and clinched Júbilo’s relegation back to J2.