Top five all drop points as Sanfrecce join mix in hectic Matchweek 14

Top five all drop points as Sanfrecce join mix in hectic Matchweek 14

The top of the Meiji Yasuda J1 League table got a massive shake up on Saturday as all of the top five teams dropped points.

Four draws and a loss dealt blows to all the teams who fancied themselves title contenders coming into the week, but there was a bright side for one club - Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who are now squarely in the elite pack.

While everyone else was stumbling, Sanfrecce comfortably dispatched Kyoto Sanga F.C., 3-1. Two goals in the first 26 minutes put them well up, courtesy of Makoto Mitsuta and Júnior Santos. Though Sanga cut the lead in half just before the break, a second-half own goal sealed all three points for the home side in Hiroshima.

The Viola have now lost just one of their last nine contest, a terrific run that has included victories over contenders Kashima Antlers and Yokohama F·Marinos.

Those contenders all found it tough this weekend. First place Kawasaki Frontale drew Sagan Tosu, who entered the matchweek in fifth. Second place Kashima split points with Urawa Reds, 1-1, while Marinos lost to Avispa Fukuoka, 1-0. Kashiwa Reysol, who started the weekend in fourth place, played F.C.Tokyo to a goalless stalemate.

Those results, plus Sanfrecce’s win, pushed the Viola all the way up to fourth. They are on 21 points, nine back of Frontale, eight behind Kashima, and just four behind Yokohama F·Marinos - a remarkable surge for a team that took their time getting going in 2022.