The relegation race in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE is a massive fight, with as many as seven clubs battling to stay out of the bottom four and keep their spot in the top flight for next season. Every point is crucial, and any time one of those teams can manage three points, it’s massive.
Over the weekend, it was Yokohama FC and Oita Trinita who pulled off wins, shaking up the relegation race as they vie to climb out of the drop zone.
Yokohama FC won an eight-goal thriller, topping Tokushima Vortis, 5-3. Yusuke Matsuo and Saulo Mineiro scored in the first 20 minutes to give Yokohama a lead before Ken Iwao answered back with a goal of his own. Mineiro scored a second goal to restore Yokohama’s two-goal lead, but Yuki Kakita scored twice on the other side of halftime to tie the score at 3-3.
With their lead gone, Yokohama had to turn it back on again and they did just that, getting goals from Yuya Takagi and Kazuma Watanabe to retake the lead and walk away winners.
In Oita, Arata Watanabe played the role of hero with a pair of second half goals to deliver Trinita the victory. His first tally came in the 50th minute when he was first to a rebound and banged it in to give Trinita the lead. Then, a bizarre foul by Jakub Słowik after the goalkeeper had cleared the ball earned Trinita a penalty, which Watanabe buried to secure the 2-0 win.
Trinita and Yokohama have now won consecutive matches each and have a chance to move out of the relegation zone coming up. They sit 18th and 19th in the table respectively, but Oita are only two points from safety and Yokohama are two points back of them. Vortis are in 16th, the final safe place, with Shonan Bellmare sandwiched between them and Trinita.