Sanfrecce cream of the crop after stalemate galore

Sanfrecce cream of the crop after stalemate galore

Both Gamba Osaka and Urawa Reds faltered in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League on Wednesday, allowing Sanfrecce Hiroshima to roar clear at the top of the table.

Hajime Moriyasu’s men continued their perfect start to the second stage by putting six past visitors Matsumoto Yamaga without reply, helped on their way by consecutive own-goals from Masaki Iida and then Yudai Iwama in the first 6 minutes.

There was not merely fortune involved in the hosts’ landslide victory however, as goals from Yoshifumi Kashiwa - a belter from outside the box - and Douglas confirmed Sanfrecce’s superiority before Kosei Shibasaki recorded a brace late on.

Champions Gamba failed to join the 2013 league winners at the top after letting slip a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to upcoming Yamazaki Nabisco Cup quarter-final opponents Nagoya Grampus.

Winger Kotaro Omori’s eighth-minute stunner got the visitors off to an excellent start before Patric added the second and put Kenta Hasegawa’sa outfit in a commanding position for all three points.

But they would have no answer when Grampus surged back in the second half through Kensuke Nagai and Marcus Tulio Tanaka, both setting the stage perfectly for Kengo Kawamata to rocket in the winning strike and bring the Mizuho Stadium crowd to their feet.

First stage winners Urawa Reds’ goalless draw at Montedio Yamagata meanwhile allowed Vissel Kobe to move up to second with their 1-1 result against Shonan Bellmare thanks to Shunki Takahashi’s rasping long-range effort.

A flurry of other stalemates was the order of the round as Shimizu S-Pulse halted a four-match losing streak to hold Kashima Antlers 0-0, while Ventforet Kofu and Vegalta Sendai similarly failing to find the breakthrough against each other.

Sagan Tosu’s Yohei Toyoda did manage to move joint-top of the league scoring charts after netting his 14th goal of the season with the equaliser to cancel out Kengo Nakamura’s opener for Kawasaki Frontale in the two teams’ 1-1 draw.

Masato Kudo will likewise cherish his winner for Kashiwa Reysol as the embattled side earned their first victory in nearly a month, defeating Yokohama F.Marinos 1-0.

Finally, FC Tokyo appeared to move on from the departure of their top scorer Yoshinori Muto when they dispatched Albirex Niigata 3-1 at Ajinomoto Stadium.

Clinical strikes from Keigo Higashi and Hideto Takahashi before Masato Morishige netted a bullet header saw the capital team through a combative encounter that yielded a 96th minute consolation goal for Albirex from the penalty spot.