Sanfrecce Hiroshima will be proud of rallying from two goals down at Urawa Reds, even if that was not enough to prevent them from slipping to a 4-3 MEIJI YASUDA J1 League loss.
The relegation battlers traveled to Saitama Stadium on Saturday hoping to enjoy a boost in fortunes against their wobbling hosts too, but were disappointed early on as Shinzo Koroki and Yuto Muto struck twice for the Reds in quick succession right before half-time.
However, Yusuke Minagawa responded for Sanfrecce right after the break and Anderson Lopes’ brace then put Hajime Moriyasu’s men in front.
There was heartbreak at the end, though, as Zlatan Ljubijankic and then Takahiro Sekine struck the winning goals for the Reds, although there are signs of progress from Sanfrecce - who signed Patric and Daiki Niwa this week - ahead of the second half of the season.
Kawasaki Frontale left no room for doubt on the end result as they hit Vissel Kobe for five thanks to Hiroyuki Abe’s brace early on, while Gamba Osaka managed to see off Vegalta Sendai 3-2 albeit with some difficulty.
Albirex Niigata finish the first half of the season bottom of the table following their 2-0 defeat at home to Jubilo Iwata but Consadole Sapporo managed to gain ground on Shimizu S-Pulse in the table by beating their guests 1-0 with an early Jonathan Reis winner.
Consadole overtake Omiya Ardija in the table, with the latter sucked into the relegation zone following their 2-1 loss to Yokohama F. Marinos.
All eyes now turn to Kashiwa Stadium, as J1 League leaders Kashiwa Reysol host on-form 2016 champions Kashima Antlers in a battle for supremacy on Sunday.