Thursday, July 24, 2008

R27 - Cerezo - Sanfrecce highlights

Highlights from Cerezo's 1-2 loss against Sanfrecce in R27:

Stunning goal from Kashiwagi, who really seems have found his feet now.

R26 - Vegalta-Cerezo highlights

Highlights from the Vegalta - Cerezo match in R26:

Although made by and for Vegalta fans, it seems to cover the match pretty well. That Sekiguchi is a talented dude though.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

R27 - The agony continues

Cerezo Osaka Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-2
C: Komatsu 52’
S: Sato 55’, Kashiwagi 63’

Poor Cerezo lost again, and were totally outplayed when they met Sanfrecce at home. Sanfrecce’s win should have been by a bigger margin, but Yamamoto in the Cerezo goal had a good day, and denied Sato and the others over and over again. However, with a bit more luck Cerezo would have ended up as winners actually, as they blew a penalty early in the 2nd half. Although Sanfrecce had the most of the chances, that goal could have stirredup the match, leaving Cerezo in charge.

Eve without a lead by half-time, Cerezo looked quite strong when they entered the 2nd half though, and took the lead just 7 minutes after the break. RB Yanagisawa and Komatsu had a nice one-two combination that ended with Komatsu giving Cerezo the lead. But it didn’t last long, and 3 minutes later Sato equalized wit a dynamic and powerful shot from distance. Now it was all Sanfrecce ,and with minutes they were 2-1 up, thanks to a goal the in-form midfielder Kashiwagi. Certainly a deserved lead, but the way it came seemed a bit lucky.
Cerezo threw on some extra firepower near the end, but it didn’t help, and Sanfrecce took all 3 points. With Cerezo’s 7 shots against Sanfrecce’s 20, it was fully deserved as well.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

R27 - Clash of the Titans ( or atleast one)

Cerezo Osaka Sanfrecce Hiroshima

There’s no news on the injury front for Cerezo, and the biggest loss are MF Germano. Cerezo have acquired a new player since last match though, and has rented Kyoto’s DF Hirajima. He’s been a regular starter for Kyoto this season, and will be a good addition to Cerezo. However, FW Yasuhito Morishima have been rented out to J1 side Oita Trinita. Morishima started a few matches lately, has been way down the pecking order this season, and looked like a 6th choice up front. Still, it’s a significant loss. FW Furuhashi are expected to be starting this match, but still has to go through a late fitness test. A very important player, and his return will be highly appreciated.

For Sanfrecce, there’s no news since the last match, and DF Stoyanov does not seem to be ready for the match as he’s struggling with fitness problems. Both their 1st and 2nd goalkeeper are injured, as well as another regular defender in Moriwaki.
Cerezo’s form aren’t the best, with just a single win in their last 5 matches and just 2 in the last 8. But they still holds the 2nd place, and there’s been vast improvements over the last 2 matches. They drew Vegalta last round away ,which is a strong result, but actually they deserved to win. Cerezo are typically a very solid home team, but got a mediocte 2-1-3 on the last 6 in Osaka. For Sanfrecce, they look scincillatiing, with 10 wins in their last 13, and back-to-back wins in their last 2.Away they are equally as impressive, with 5-0-1 on the last 6. All previous meetings gives us 2-2-3, with Sanfrecce winning the last match 4-1 at home earlier this season. Before that, Cerezo had 4 matches without a loss, but that was in 2006.
Sanfrecce are favorites due to their superior form, but they meet a team most people regard are equally as good to them. Surely there’s lots of potential in Cerezo, but they haven’t been 100% up to it this season. Cerezo are usually a very strong home team as well,but it’s a wide-open match

Thursday, July 17, 2008

R26 - Scoreless draw in Sendai

The two top teams Vegalta and Cerezo shared the spoils in 0-0 draw in Sendai this round, but despite the lack of goals, it was an entertaining mach. A draw is a result neither of the teams should be particularly happy with, as we’re in a phase of the season where winning is as important than ever. But with the teams fighting for the same places, atleast none of them fell behind.

Reports says Cerezo were the best team, but couldn’t quite capitalize on their chances. Once again Shinji Kagawa was a menace, and set up his team-mates on several occasions. However, it was Cerezo’s sturdy defensive play that was most impressive this match, and they managed to keep a clean sheet against a tough opponent. Likewise for Vegalta, who seems to have problems finding the net at home though. They haven’t scored for 3 matches in Sendai, which is quite rare.
All in all a fair result, but Cerezo had the edge for the most of the match, and with a bit more spark in their attack, they would have won it. Vegalta had 12 shots to Cerezo’s 17.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Kagawa set for Beijing Olympics!

Cerezo's wonder-kid Shinji Kagawa has been named as one of the 18 players that will make the trip to Beijing and the Olympic Games. It was news taken out of the blue, as Kagawa has never been involved with this team before. But despite his young age ( 19), Kagawa has already gotten his debut on the Japan NT squad, and even played as a starter in the important WC-qualifying matches a month ago. Surely this is a good opportunity for Kagawa to shine at the world-stage, and a quick peek at the full roster for the Olympic suggest that Kagawa might get an important role, as he's one of few offensive players in midfield.
Congratulations to Kagawa, and although he will be missed during the games, I bet all of Cerezo's fans are happy with the news.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

R26 Vs Vegalta preview

Vegalta Sendai Cerezo Osaka

Vegalta got a couple of new additions to their injury list, but neither GK Schneider or FW Suzuki are regulars. Schneider were the forst choice in goal last season, but has been demoted to the bench now. For Cerezo, the very important DF Maeda is fit again, and Cerezo can now field their strongest back-line, which will boost their chances. Germano are still out in midfield as long as Furuhashi up front. MF Ale is also back from suspension.
Vegalta’s form is not too bad, with 3-1-1 on the last 5 matches. They haven’t been too consistent though, and dropped points in fairly easy matches. Vegalta’s home form is 3-1-2. They took a strong 2-1 away win against Sagan in the last round. Cerezo had 3 straight defeats before they met Montedio away last round, and agains the odds they managed to beat an in-form home side 2-0. A strong result, but here Cerezo are facing another top-team. Cerezo have a good away record though, with 4-0-2 on the last 6. All previous meetings gives us 3-0-4, and Cerezo won the first meeting this season 2-1 at home.
It’s pretty open who’s gonna win it here as well, as neither of the teams have shown a particular good form lately. Cerezo looked good in their last match, and gets few key-members back since then. Vegalta are without any regulars, but often fails to deliver againt good teams. I think it will be a closely fought match, and most likely a 1-goal win to either of the teams. Hopefully Cerezo :-)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

R25 - J2 results

Ehime FC Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0-2
S:Takahaji 4’, Sato 32'
League-leaders Sanfrecce took all 3 points when they battled it out against Ehime away this round, and won 2-0. It was a closely contested match though, and Ehime could very well have won it. In fact, Ehime had more shots on goal than the visitors, and it was surprising to see how easy Sanfrecce’s usually sturdy defence let Ehime get shots at them.
A good start from Sanfrecce made Ehime’s case look tough, and Takahaji gave them the lead on a counter-attack after only 4 minutes. It didn’t take too long before Sanfrecce’s lead were doubled, when Sato were on the receiving end of a pass from DF Aoyama, who did great to create space for himself with a surging run forward. He showed great passing skills inside a small space, and Sato had an easy job scoring.
Ehime, who had gone 8 matches unbeaten at home before this match, tried their best to get back into the match, and began making vigorous attacks down both flanks, and created several chances. Lack of accuracy in the finishing let them down though, and even though they put in 2 new strikers it didn’t help. Ehime had 17 shots to Sanfrecce’s 14, and on a better day Ehime would have won this.

Thespa Kusatsu Avispa Fukuoka 1-2
T: Goto 75’
A: Havenaar 38’, Nakajima 67’

After 6-2-0 on the last 8,Thespa were beaten by Avispa at home in a match they should have won. Avispa won 2-1, but it was Thespa that looked the best team, and also had most of the chances. A strong performance from the visitors either way.
Thespa started the game best, and impressed with neat one-touch passing that left the Avispa-defenders running around chasing the ball. But it didn’t result in too many chances, and eventually Avispa found out of the tricky passing game. The tall FW Havenaar gave Avispa the lead a few minutes before the break, with a powerful header from close range. A somewhat undeserved lead by half-time, but it were going to get worse for Thespa.
As neither of the teams managed to build up a momentum in the 2nd half, the teams made a few changes. It didn’t have an immediate effect, but it opened up a little more. Nakajima doubled Avispa’s lead with a shot from a free-kick midway through the half, and now Thespa’s chances of a point looked slim. They managed to get one back though a few minutes later through Goto, but in the end they lost. Avispa got DF Nagira 10 minutes from full time, but even with a man extra Thespa failed to break down the defence. Thespa had 8 shots to Avispa’s 5.
S: Abe 67’

Shonan disappointed by only managing a draw away against Tokushima this round, who had 4 straight losses ahead of this one. Shonan doesn’t look like a promotion-contender at the moment, and were lucky to even get the draw here.
Tokushima started the game best, and came to a few big chances early on. They stood high with their defence, which also let Shonan get a few chances on counter-attacks. Most of the action took place after the break though, and the away team took the lead midway through the 2nd half with Yojiro Abe, who fired home a cross from the right. The goal came in a good Shonan-period, and if it hadn’t been for Shimazu in the Tokushima goal, Shonan would have had a bigger lead.
Tokushima didn’t give up though, and got their deserved equalizer 10 minutes from full-time. Another Abe scored the goal, the substitute Yutaro who scored with a header after an inswung free-kick. Tokushima did their best to get the winning goal, but despite a few big chances near the end, the match ended 1-1. Tokushima had 12 shots to Shonan’s 10.
M: Hori 12’, 69’, Arata 44’

Mito took their 2nd win in a row when they impressed by beating Roasso 3-1 away this round. A strong win and it was deserved too.
Mito’s MVP were by no dout midfielder Kento Hori, who scored twice to secure all 3 points for the visitors. He got on the scoresheet early on, and gave Mito the lead after 12 minutes with a well-taken shot. Roasso took over after the goal, and put Mito under big pressure to try to get the equalizer.But Mito’s defence had a good day, and managed to withstand the Roasso attacks. However, right before the break Roasso got their equalizer through MF Komorida, who just had returned from injury. But Roasso’s joy weren’t to last long, as Mito’s topscorer Arata scored his 7th goal of the season just 2 minutes later to make it 1-2 by half-time.
The 2nd half were a little bit more off the pace, and both teams looked to be running out of steam. Mito managed to look the sharpest though, and Hori got the honour of killing the game off with his 2nd goal midway through the half. A well-deserved win for Mito, who climbed to 12th with the win. Mito had 15 shots to Roasso’s 9.

Sagan Tosu Vegalta Sendai 1-2
S: Hirose 44’
V: Okayama 64’, Ryan Yong Gi 73’

In the battle for 4th place Vegalta beat Sagan 2-1 away, and are now 1 point ahead of them with a game in hand. Both teams had varying results going into this match, but Vegalta showed alot more willingness and poise and were deserved winners.
Sagan got off to the best start though, and looked the sharpest in the first half. Vegalta opted for counter-attacks, but never really managed to get near enough Sagan’s goal for a shot. Sagan took the lead just before the break through Hirose, who scored his first goal of the season.
Vegalta made a few substitutions going into the 2nd half though, and it paid off immediately. Vegalta looked totally changed, and took over the match. Okayama equalized with a nice shot from a set-play in the 64th minute, and it didn’t take long before Ryan had put them 2-1 up. Sagan’s Hidaka fouled a Vegalta striker inside the box, and were rightfully sent-off. Ryan converted the PK with ease, and after the goal it was all Vegalta. Sagan had enough trouble defending themselves, and clearly the one-man deficit affected their play. Vegalta should have scored a couple of more goals, but they managed to win atleast. Vegalta had 14 shots to Sagan’s 6.

Yokohama and Kofu shared the spoils in a 0-0 draw, and that’s a result Kofu should be most happy about. Yokohama were the best team, but can only blame themselves for not being able to score on any of their chances. They had the similar problem last round, when they were held at home by Thespa in another 0-0 draw.
Yokohama looked the best already early on, and got to several big chances in the first half. Anderson had a few dangerous shots, and Nanba’s header were cleared on the line by a Kofu-defender. Right before the break Miura were unlucky not to score from a free-kick, so it was basically one-way traffic. Kofu managed to get alittle more into the game for the 2nd half though, and played a very good game defensively. But overall, they were lucky to escape with a draw, but as both teams are stuck in the middle of the table, the match weren’t the most important one anyway. Yokohama had 12 shots to Kofu’s 5.

R25 - Cerezo back on track with a win in Yamagata

Montedio Yamagata Cerezo Osaka 0-2
C: Inui 47’, Komatsu 74’

Cerezo ended their streak of defeats with a strong 0-2 win at Montedio this round, which means they are tied with Montedio for 2nd place now. A highly important win, and considering Cerezo were without several key players it was a strong performance as well. For Montedio it was their 2nd straight defeat, and perhaps their good form is about to end.

The match were pretty intense, with quick football and neat passing from both sides. Both defences had a good game though, and the first half didn’t have any real chances. But despite the lack of chances, it was never boring. Cerezo fielded two fairly new signing in midfield this match, in Inui and Aoyama. Inui gave Cerezo the lead a few minutes into the 2nd half when Kagawa set him up after a nice dribbling run. A deserved lead, as Cerezo had the most of the possession. As the match went on, Cerezo still looked like the team in charge, and when Komatsu doubled their lead after receiving a through-pass in the 74th minute, the match were practically over as Montedio realized they wouldn’t get any points from here. A few weeks ago Montedio’s star striker Toyoda returned from injury ( unavailable this match though due to U-23 duties), and the other big-name up front Rychelly made his comeback this match by coming off the bench. Rychelly didn’t had much of an impact on the game though, but surely having those 2 back will be a major boost as they try to defend their 2nd place position. Cerezo had 13 shots to Montedio’s 8th.

R15 - J1 results

The biggest match of the round took place in Kashiwa, where Reysol beat Gamba 1-0 after a late goal from Tadanari Lee.
Although Gamba had the most of the chances, Reysol had the biggest ones, and the home-team looked very dangerous every-time they went near the Gamba-goal. It was Franca’s first start this season, and he proved his worth to the team on several occasions with some nice combination plays. Franca and Lee is a dangerous duo up front, and with help from the likes of Popo, Shigehara among others in midfield they make one of the best offensive line-ups in the league. Gamba’s biggest chances came through Bare, but the big striker failed to find the net this match. Reysol’s keeper had a good day, and came up with several good saves.
The only goal of the match came in the 75th minute, when Franca set up Lee to fire home a powerful shot. It came in a good Gamba period, and they put in a good attempt to get back into the match after Lee’s goal. But Reysol rode the storm off, and could take yet another big win that means they are in 3rd, one point ahead of Gamba in 5th. Reysol had 8 shots to Gamba’s 20, and Gamba deserved more from this match.

Kawasaki Frontale Yokohama F Marinos 2-1
K: Ganaha 10’, Juninho 91’
Y: Yamase 43’

For the first time this season, Kawasaki could pair up Juninho and Ganaha up front, and the 2 strikers that formed such a great partnership the previous seasons had a good game together, and both got on the scoresheet. Ganaha where highly undoubtful for the match though, but a late fitness test saw him make it in the starting eleven.
He didn’t took long before scoring the opening goal, when he pounded in a rebound from a Juninho-shot after only 10 minutes. With that the tone were already set, and the 2 rival teams played a competitive and entertaining match this evening. Marinos’s playmaker Yamase scored from a direct free-kick to make it 1-1 just before the break, and for long it looked like it would save a point for the visitors.
The 2nd half were played in a slightly slower tempo, perhaps cause the players were losing stamina. Frontale looked the most likely winner though, and when they subbed in Chong Tese for Ganaha who were running out of steam, they sparked into life again and got to a few chances. Marinos got Kawaii sent off a few minutes before full-time, and in injury-time Frontale exploited the one-man-deficit of Marinos, when Juninho scored on a volley-shot after a corner. Frontale had 12 shots to Marinos’s 9, and deserved the win.
O: Maeda 25’

Kyoto were unlucky only to get a draw when they met Oita at home. Kyoto had most of the possession and also most of the chances. Only sloppy finishing and good goalkeeping from Nishikawa kept Oita in this game.
It started well for Kyoto though, as Watanabe exploited a mix-up in the Oita defence and ran towards goal with 2 defenders surrounding him. Watanabe found Yanagisawa with a clever pass, and the striker slid in the opening goal. But just a few minutes later, Maeda equalized on a rare chance for Oita, with a header that Kyoto’s goalkeeper should easily have saved.
Kyoto dominated most of the play, and had several chances to double their tally, both before and after the break. But their target striker Yanagisawa were usually were ineffective, and when Fernandinho and the others didn’t managed to hit the target either they only managed a draw. Oita came close a shock win when Ueslei hit the bar with a swirling shot, but that would have been very undeserved. Kyoto had 15 shots to Oita’s 6.

Urawa Red Diamonds FC Tokyo 2-0
U: Edmilson 3’, Nagai 88’

Urawa hit back after 2 straight defeats, and defeated a strong FC Tokyo side by 2-0 at home this round. Urawa got off to a good start, and should have lead by a couple of goals by half-time. Takahara were placed on the bench for this one, which left way for Tatsuya Tanaka to start alongside Edmilson. Those two combined very well, and with a little more playing time they might turn out to be the deadliest partnership in the league. Tanaka’s comeback were a joy to watch, and he impressed more this match than Takahara has done all season. Tanaka were the man behind the first goal, as he got loose on the left and sent in a diagonal pass for Edmilson to fire home in the opening minutes. Tanaka and Edmilson got to a couple of other chances as well, but either Shiota in the Tokyo goal saved it or they failed to hit the target.
The first half were pretty much dominated by Urawa, althought Tokyo got more into the game near the end. They even had a big chance through Konno, who hit the post with his header. After the break, the match had completely turned, and suddenly Tokyo looked the fiercest team, dominating the play. Urawa didn’t come to any chances until they scored the winning goal in the dying minutes, which underlines how good Tokyo were. But the finishing weren’t up to par, and in the end Urawa deserved the win. One of the reasons why Tokyo took more over is perhaps that Tanaka,Edmilson and the very inspiring Robson Ponte all were forced to leave the field early in the 2nd half. Those 2 were the biggest contributors offensively, and they lost the spark in the attack when they went out. When Tokyo were pressing forward for the equalizer, they left alot room left in defence, and Nagai got a rare chance in the 88th minute when he were played through one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Nagai did everything right and punctuated the game with a clinical strike. Urawa had 10 shots to Tokyo’s 12.

Albirex Niigata Nagoya Grampus Eight 2-1
A: Matsushita 59’,Yano 83’
N: Masukawa 74’

Albirex took their 4th win in the last 5 matches when they beat 2nd placed Nagoya 2-1 at home. An impressive win, which means Albirex are in 9th place, just 4 points behind the 3rd placed team. After a very poor start to the season, few would have predicted that Albirex would turn it around like this. Likewise, Nagoya seemed to have fallen apart now, and dropped to 4th with this loss. With just 2 wins in their last 8 matches their form isn’t the best.
It was a very entertaining match, with plenty of chances, and both teams should have scored atleast a couple of more goals. Especially in the first half did they waste chances, and all goals came after the break. Albirex dictated most of the play though, and were deserved leaders in the end. Matsushita scored the opening goal in the 59th minute after a nice pass from right-back Uchida. Nagoya had several chances to equalize, and Johnsen atleast should have managed to get on the scoresheet this match. It was clear that Nagoya were missing their playmaker Magnum though. They still managed to find the net once, when Masukawa headed home a corner-kick in the 74th minute. But it proved to be worthless, because 7 minutes from full-time Kisho Yano scored the winning goal for Albirex. The home team had 20 shots to Nagoya’s 14.
K: Ogasawara 3’, Motoyama 34’

Antlers took their 3rd win a row when they beat Jubilo 2-1 away this round. That means they are in 2nd place now, only 1 point behind leading Urawa. Antlers certainly looks very strong this season, and look like early favorites for the title. Jubilo became atleast a number too small this match, and Kashima deserved the win.
The playmaker Ogasawara gave Kashima an early lead after only 3 minutes, after some nice play from Araita on the flank. Araibia had a very good match and set up both of Antlers’s goals. The 2nd goal came in the 28th minute, and was another high cross that Motoyama haded home to make 2-0 for the visitors.
Jubilo weren’t all lost though, and had several chances for themselves to score. The only goal the got came after an hour or so, when Cullen met a cross form Murai wih his head. The end of the match where very entertaining as Jubilo chased the equalizer, which left room for Kashima on counter-attacks. In the end it became another loss for Jubilo though, who struggled down in 16th now with 4 losses in their last 5 matches.

A single goal from Leandro were enough for Vissel to beat Omiya at home, in a slowly-paced contest without too many chances. The teams were evenly contested, and the win could have gone either ways. Vissel ended up as winners in the end though, which seems fair.
Leandro gave Vissel the lead with a fabulous strike from distance after only 9 minutes, which meant Omiya had to play catch-up for the entire match. They struggled to get past the sturdy Vissel defence though, who played one of their better matches this season. Omiya’s usually effective play on the wings weren’t too good either this match, with overall poor crossing. Vissel were by far the best team in the first half, but Omiya looked the strongest after the break. If the visitors had been a bit more lucky, they could have gotten an equalizer,and especially Marques should have scored. Vissel withstood it though, and in the end they could take a very important win that propelled them out of the relegation zone and into 12th. Vissel had 8 shots to Omiya’s 9.

Tokyo Verdy JEF Utd Ichihara 3-0
T: Hulk 49’, Shibasaki 58’, Diego 79’

Verdy completely out-classed JEF this round as they beat them 3-0 at home. All goals came in the 2nd half, and JEF were lucky to escape with only 3 conceded goals.
Verdy were very deserved winners, and looked the best team for most of the match. They weren’t as dominant in the first half as in the 2nd though, and if JEF have scored on one of their big chances in the first half the match might have been different.
In the 2nd half, it was a complete one-way traffic out there, and JEF didn’t have a single shot on goal. Hulk gave Verdy the lead a few minutes after the break with a powerful shot from distance with his left-foot that left JEF’s keeper stranded. IT didn’t take long before Verdy were 2-0 up, when Shibasaki scored after Hulk set him neatly up. Verdy’s gifted brazilian trio over and over again caused trouble for JEF’s defence, and Diego got the honour of rounding it off with another strike from distance. A very deserved win, and a proof of why JEF are struggling down in the relegation-zone. Verdy had 18 shots to JEF’s only 5.

Consadole Sapporo Shimizu S-Pulse 2-2
C: Davi 29’, Ikeuchi 75’
S: Nishizawa 13’, Marcos Paulo 45’

Consadole and Shimizu fought it out in a close encounter at Atsubetsu Stadium this round, and the teams shared the spoils with a 2-2 result. It was overall a very closely contested match, but the visitors looked marginally the better team. Atleast in the first half the visitors looked good, and took an early lead through Akinori Nishizawa. The veteran striker headed home a cross from Edamura in the 13th minute to make it 1-0 for Shimizu. But the lead didn’t last long, cause in a good Shimizu period Consadole got a corner. Clayton’s in-swinger precisely found the rising Davi in the box, who easily converted his header. As the teams battled it out, and were preparing for half-time, Fujimoto combined well with the brazilian striker Marcos Paulo to set up Shimizu’s 2nd goal. In the dying seconds of the first half Paulo received a nice through pass that set him free to score alone with Consadole’s keeper.
For the 2nd half, Shimizu continued to be the team in charge,but didn’t come to that many chances. Neither did the home-team, but somewhat against the play they still managed to find an equalizer for the 2nd time in the match. Clayton were the one with the assist this time as well, with a nice cross to Ikeuchi who scored with his head. Despite heavy pressure near the end, Shimizu couldn’t find the winning goal, and in the end they might should have deserved more. Overall pretty even though between 2 teams stuck near the bottom of the table.. Consadole had 9 shots to Shimizu’s 8.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

R25 - Tough match vs The Mountain Kings

Montedio Yamagata Cerezo Osaka
For Montedio, there’s 2 new additions to their list of absent players. FW Toyoda got some 20 minutes on the pitch last match, but he are out with U-23 NT duties. DF Kimura is missing as well with an injury.
For Cerezo, the list are still huge, and the only change since last match is that DF Haneda are out with suspension. But righ-back Omata are back from suspension, so in terms of number of regulars missing it’s not any changes. Haneda are harder to replace than Omata though.

Montedio lost against Gifu last round, and have only 1 win in their last 4 matches now. They seem to be a bit out of it but still holds 2nd place. Montedio’s home form is simply amazing though, with 7 straight wins and 8-2-0 on the last 10. They’ve been unbeatable on home soil lately. For Cerezo, they lost again last round, and have 5 losses in their last 7 now, which means they’ve fallen to 4th. With 5 regulars plus 2 support players out, that’s the most obvious reason for the slump in form, but there seems to be some other problems too.
Cerezo’s away form is quite good though, with 4-0-2 on the last 6. All previous meetings gives us 2-0-3, with Montedio winning the first match this season 1-3 away.

Montedio have scored tons of goals lately at home, and conceded very few. 16-3 in goal-difference is impressive. Like-wise, Cerezo have scored plenty away, and got 15 goals in the last 6. I think we’ll see an entertaining match with some goals here, as it’s 2 attacking-oriented teams that meets.
Unfortunately, Montedio looks most likely win.

R24 - J2 results

FC Gifu Montedio Yamagata 2-1
G: Katagiri 74’,87’
M: Akiba 78’

Montedio were just one of many high-placed teams that lost points to a small club this round, but their 1-2 loss away at Gifu doesn’t affect their league position, and they’re still in 2nd. A very strong win for Gifu, who usually takes all their wins away. They beat Montedio in the first match this season as well, in a whopping 5-3 win.
It was an entertaining match, with both teams coming to a couple of big matches. For the first half, it was pretty even, but Gifu nevertheless looked the sharpest team, and they controlled the ball most of the time. But they didn’t come to that many chances, so the score were still deadlocked by half-time.
The 2nd half went on pretty much in the same way, although Montedio were a bit more involved now. The match exploded in the dying minutes though, and FW Katagiri, who returned from injury to this match became the man of the match with 2 late goals that sealed the win. His first goal were a beautiful header from close range, but within 4 minutes Montedio had equalized with another tricky header from Akiba.
But as both teams looked to be settling with the 1 point, Gifu received a free-kick in a dangerous position a few minutes before full time. Katagiri made no mistake, and scored with a well-placed kick. Gifu had 10 shots to Yamagata’s 5, and played one of their better matches lately. A deserved win, but Montedio were probably hoping for more.

A team that refuses to lose are Thespa Kusatsu, who now have played 8 matches in a row without defeat. They were somehat lucky to escape with a point here though, as Yokohama were by far the better team.
Despite having plenty of chances, Yokohama didn’t manage to break down Thespa’s defence, but they came close on a couple of occasions. Atsuhiro Miura had a particular good day in his flank, causing alot of trouble for Thespa’s Shimada all throughout the match. Miura got loose on several occasions due to his technical skills, but his team-mates failed to capitalise on his crosses.
The biggest chance of the match came in the 2nd half though, when a Yokohama-player hit the bar with a swirling shot. Overall Yokohama had 14 shots to Thespa’s 4, and the visitors should be very happy with a point here.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima Roasso Kumamoto 2-2
S: Sato 35’,55’
R: Kijima 27’, Yamaguchi 67’

Perhaps the biggest surprise this round were Roasso’s draw against Sanfrecce away. A fantastic result. In the last 3 matches now Roasso have met perhaps the 3 best teams in the league. They drew against Vegalta, and beat Cerezo before managing another draw here now. That’s pretty impressive for such a small club.
Roasso put Sanfrecce under pressure early on, and took the lead in the 27th minute through Kijima on a quick counter-attack. But Sanfrecce’s top-scorer Hisato Sato were on target just a few minutes later, as he picked up a loose ball in the box and fired it home. Sanfrecce had the most of the chances, but Roasso didn’t look too bad either.
Sato scored again some 10 minutes into the 2nd half, when he converted a penalty after going down himselves. That was his 12th goal of the season, and the little striker has proved his worth to his team. Sanfrecce took more over after the goal, and should have doubled their lead on a couple of occasions. Instead though, Roasso bounced back with a nice finish from Yamaguchi after a precise cross in the 67th minute. A fantastic comeback, and despite being under heavy pressure for the rest of the match, they managed to withstand it. Sanfrecce had 22 shots to Roasso’s 11, and deserved more in the end. Nonetheless, an impressive performance from the visitors.

Vegalta Sendai Ehime FC 0-1
E: Tanaka 61’

Vegalta have varied alot lately, and the only constant thing about their form seems to be that they fail to win 2 matches in a row. On paper, this should have been an easy win, but Ehime played one of their better matches lately, and took a very surprising 0-1 away win. In fact, this was Vegalta’s first home loss this season.
Ehime started the game pretty good, and forced Vegalta back in defence early on. They focused their attack around the 2 strikers Wakabayashi and Tanaka, who with their strength made room for the the midfielders to get to chances. Ehime had alot of shots from distance this match, but most of them went flying over the bar.
Vegalta weren’t all lost themselves though, and especially in the 2nd half did they have most of the momentum. Ehime’s goal came in a good Vegalta period, when Tanaka received a through-pass and rounded off a Vegalta-defender with ease before hammering it in from close range. A nice goal, and with just 30 minutes left to play, Ehime were eyeing a surprising win. They managed to stay in the lead, and in the end they could celebrate a strong, and also deserved away win. Vegalta had 14 shots to Ehime’s 16.

Avispa Fukuoka Ventforet Kofu 0-2
V: Fujita 42’ Kanzaki 55’

Poor Avispa once again ended up on the losing side, when a visiting Kofu beat them 2-0. With the win, Kofu narrowed Avispa’s gap to only a single point, and the teams currently lies in 10th and 11th. Before the season, few would have predicted that, as both teams were looked upon as potential promotion candidates.
It was a deserved win for Kofu, who played a good match all over. They looked tight in defence, and didn’t let Avispa come to that many chances. Up front, Kofu opted to start with the inexperienced Kanzaki alongside Maeda, and they did pretty well this match. Kanzaki topped it with a goal as well, and can be happy with his performance. MF Fujita scored first though, as he gave Kofu the lead just before the break with a nice solo-effort. Kanzaki doubled the lead early in the 2nd half with what was his first ever goal for Kofu.
Avispa did their best to regain the momentum, and even put in an extra forward. It didn’t help though, and the Kyushu-based team is having perhaps their worst season ever. Avispa had 7 shots to Kofu’s 10.

Shonan’s form hasn’t been good lately, but since they won their last match pretty comfortably, it might looked like they were back on track. But against the minnow Mito this round, they looked utterly poor, and Mito took a well-deserved 1-0 away win. A strong result, which ended a poor run for Mito with 4 straight losses.
Shonan tried to play their usual game, but Mito denied them the space they needed, which led to many hard tackles and tough play. Most of the play too place in midfield, and the match had very few chances overall.. Shonan’s best player were the wing-back Usui, who stood behind pretty much half of Shonan’s chances.
The winning goal came early in the 2nd half, in the 56th minute. Mito’s topscorer so far Arata were on target again after being nicely played free by Muramatsu in midfield. Arata’s 7th goal of the season, and the speedy striker has had a great season so far. After Mito’s goal, Shonan got 2 players sent off actually. First the brazilian FW Lincoln after being too rough with a Mito player before the other brazilian Adiel were sent off for yelling at the referee in the dying minutes. That’s 2 players that will be missed for the next game. Shonan had 4 shots to Mito’s 7.

R24 - Misery Harbour

Cerezo Osaka Sagan Tosu 0-1
S: Kuriyama 83’

Cerezo’s many injuries and suspensions has clearly affected the team’s form, and once again they ended up losing. In fact, it was their 5th loss in the last 7 matches, which has made them slip to 4th in the table.

Against Sagan, they held out for a long time though, and surprisingly, it wasn’t in the defence they struggled the most. In fact, the defence played one of their better matches for a while, despite being without a couple of key members. Up front it was worse though, and although they came to some chances they never looked like scoring. Sagan, who focused their attacks through the middle, looked much sharper, and their tactic seemed to pay off. Cerezo’s midfield were fairly new this match, with newly-signed Aoyama and Inui playing alongside Hamada, who hasn’t been too much involved this season. The only regular left were Kagawa.

Sagan’s goal came in the 83rd minute, through late substitute Kuriyama, who played his first ever match for Sagan. A marvellous debut, and it seems Sagan has another young gem in their squad. In the end a very deserved win, and Sagan now lies in 3rd. Both teams had 13 shots on goal.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

R24 - Weakened Cerezo looking for a win again

Cerezo Osaka Sagan Tosu
Cerezo’s injury misery doesn’t seem to end, and for this match 2 new players are injured, as well as 2 suspended. In defence, Cerezo are missing Maeda and Omata among the best eleven, but the support players Sakata and Nakayama are also out. In midfield both the 2 central players/volantes Germano and Ale are out, and especially Germano will be tough to replace. Finally, up front Furuhashi are out. That means they are missing their best defender,midfielder and attacker, and although they got a big squad they look weakened. In midfield, Aoyama and Hamada will start, and neither have played too much this season. Up front, it seems like Komatsu and Morishima will play, with Kakitani forced down on the wing. The biggest problem lies in defence though, which has been Cerezo’s weakest point this season as well. For Sagan it looks alot better though, and they are only missing MF’s Leonardo and Takahahi. Up front, former Cerezo FW Kim is set to miss out as well, as he got a fitness problem. But the replacement striker Taniguchi isn’t too bad, and he were the man who sank Cerezo in the first meeting actually.
Cerezo’s form are pretty horrible, with just 1-1-4 on the last 6. That means they have dropped to 3rd, and will drop further down with a loss here. They are usually rock-solid at home, but only got 3-1-2 on the last 6. Sagan are in slightly better form, but managed to lose their last match against Thespa away. Before that they had 3 straight wins. Their away form is 3-0-3 on the last 6. Sagan won the first meeting as earlier mentioned, but all previous meetings gives us 3-0-2.
Cerezo’s form and lack of several key players means they aren’t as big favorites as one should assume. On paper they are a better team, but in the teams current state Sagan looks stronger maybe. Cerezo’s defence are the main problem, and Sagan with Taniguchi and the clinical striker Fujita working well up front, we could see some goals here. Cerezo too look strong in defence, with Kagawa and Komatsu in especially good form, but there’s too many holes in the Cerezo-team to make them favorites. There’s a chance we might see a surprise away win, but it’s wide-open.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

J1 - round 14 results

Gamba Osaka Consadole Sapporo 4-2
G: Bare 4’,37’, Lucas 67’, Yamaguchi 84’
C: Nishijima 23’, Shibata 76’

Gamba overcame a visiting Consadole side by 4-2 in a very entertaining match. Lowly-placed Consadole managed to give Gamba a tougher game than expected though, but in the end Gamba’s superior players secured the win.
Bare had a good day, and looked lively for most of the match. He gave Gamba an early lead, after using his physical strength to beat a couple of Consadole defenders, before taking a powerful shot that flew past Takagi. Gamba dominated the play after the goal, and came close on doubling it a few times. Instead, Consadole equalized after a rare attack. On a corner, Nishijima reacted to a spill-ball, and almost lying down, he took a shot at goal from just 2 metre out. With that the teams were deadlocked again. Consadole came to life after the goal, and had a good period where they created some chances on their own. But Bare were on target again just before the break, as he attempted a volley-shot from close range. Luckily for Gamba, he sort of mis-hit it, and his shot hit the ground before bouncing over the goalkeeper and a defender to make it 2-1.
The 2nd half looked pretty much the same as the first, with Gamba looking to be in control. The goal of the match came midway through the half, when Endo went on a surging run forward, and with a nice spin he created some space before passing to the incoming Lucas who blasted his shot into the top-left corner. A marvellous goal, and Endo deserves most of the credit.
But Consadole refused to give up, and reduced Gamba’s lead in the 76th minute through Shibata. With just a 1 goal lead now, Consadole eyed a point, bt Gamba’s captain Yamaguchi removed the doubt with a diving header 6 minutes from full time. A well-deserved win for Gamba, who climbed several places on the table.
T: Sahara 40’
J: Reinaldo 68’

Tokyo and JEF shared the spoils in a dramatic and controversial match, in which the referee played a major part. Just a few minutes into the match, Tokyo’s captain Konno were sent off for a minor foul, that made the fans furious. Clearly the referee got that incident wrong, and he struggled for the rest of the match as well. JEF were handed a penalty-kick as well, but Reinaldo’s kick were saved by Shiota in the goal. Later in the half, Tokyo were also awarded a somewhat cheap penalty, but JEF’s keeper Tateishi marvellously saved Cabore’s shot.
Tokyo looked by far the best team in the first half though, despite being a man down.
Hideki Sahara gave them the lead just before the break, with a nice header from a corner-kick. A well-deserved goal, and Tokyo were 1-0 up by half-time.
Tokyo, who played most of the match with a man down, ran out of steam eventually, and JEF took more and more over in the 2nd half. Reinaldo made amends for his missed penalty in the 68th minute, when he headed home a nice cross from Arai. At the time of the goal, Tokyo’s Sahara were off the field, being taped up after an in injury, and JEF used their now 2-man advantage to get the equalizer. JEF pushed on for the winning goal after that, and came close on several occasions. But Shiota in Tokyo’s goal had a good day, and saved a point for Tokyo. Tokyo had 12 shots to JEF’s 14, and a draw seemed a fair result.

Oita Trinita Vissel Kobe 1-0
O: Morishige 41’

Oita took their 4th home win in a row, when they managed to beat struggling Vissel 1-0 at home this round. IT was a slowly-paced match, where the defensive play were more impressive than the offensive. We saw very few chances, and it was disappointing to see Vissel’s aces up front, Leandro and Okubo, struggle so much.
But Oita has proved a very tough team to beat at home, and they’’ve made The Big Eye Stadium into a little fortress. Only Gamba have managed to beat them there this season.
U-23 player Morishige scored the only goal of the match just before the break, with a nice header from a free-kick.
The 2nd half were mostly a fierce battle in midfield, and neither of the teams got to any chances. Kobe tried to turn the match into their favour by bringing in an extra striker, but Oita’s defence withstood the pressure. Actually, Oita holds the best defensive record in the league now, with only 12 conceded goals in 14 matches. But they haven’t been too good up front though, and only JEF have scored fewer. For Vissel, their main problem is to tip even matches into their favour, as they often plays some good football. Oita had 9 shots to Vissel’s 4, and the win were deserved.

In a somewhat uninspiring contest, Jubilo picked up their first in 5 matches, and managed toclimb out of the relegation zone. A surprising win actually, and although Marinos’s form hasn’t been good lately either, they were considered to be the better team here.
The match saw very few chances, or atleast big chances. Most of the play took place in midfield, and neither of the teams managed to penetrate through the other team’s back-line.
Marinos looked the sharpest though, but a very good Kawaguchi in Jubilo’s goal saved his team on a handful of occasions.
The only goal of the match came midway through the 2nd half, when Gilsinho received a pass from Ueda. The brazilian striker didn’t hesitate with his shot, and gave the visitors a somewhat undeserved lead. Marinos tried their best to get back into the match, but lacked the sting in attack that were needed to break down Jubilo’s defence. Marinos had 9 shots to Jubilo’s 11, and a draw would have been the most fair result.
Kashiwa Reysol Urawa Red Diamonds 2-1
K: Lee 29’, Ota 84’
U: Abe 63’

Since Reysol’ss original stadium is among the smallest ones in the league, they decided to hold this match at the Tokyo National Stadium, since it would generate alot more income. Urawa always carries alot of fans with them on away matches, and since both teams are based in each their Tokyo-suburb, the venue were perfectly placed for both teams fans to travel to.
Despite struggling with alot of injuries and suspensions this season, Reysol have had an impressive start to their season, and are only 3 points behind Urawa in first after this round’s emphatic win. Now they got most of their players back from injury, including Franca, who made his season debut this match. Urawa still holds 1st, but have looked mediocre in their last outings, and if they continue like this they will soon find themselves further down the table.
Reysol looked pretty good this match, and inspired by the neat play from striker Lee and winger Ota they put Urawa under alot of pressure. Lee scored the opening goal when he suddenly were one-on-one with keeper Tsuzuki, and with great skill he went past him to place the ball into the open net. A nice goal, and Reysol went to half-time with a one goal lead. The lead could have been bigger, but Tsuzuki prevented Lee from doubling his tally with a great save jsut minutes later.
For the 2nd half, Urawa seemed to get more into the match, and came to alot of chances. For this match, Ponte and Alex Santos made their season debut after being sidelined for several months, and whereas Ponte did a good figure, Santos looked to be on deep water, and struggled over and over again with Reysol’s winger. Santos limped off with an injury a few minutes into the 2nd half, and seemingly he will be sidelined for a long period once again. Ponte however, made his mark on the match with a nice assist. He sent in a free-kick from the right, which Abe neatly managed to head into the goal. The teams were now deadlocked, and with Urawa looking the hottest at the moment, many thought the vistors would run away with it. As it happened, both teams came up with some nice play near the end, but it was Reysol who scored. Man of the match Ota scored an almost similar goal as his compatriot Lee had done earlier, as he rounded off Tsuzuki in the Urawa goal. A late spurt from Urawa didn’t help, and Reysol could celebrate a big win. Reysol ahd 14 shots to Urawa’s 12, and in the end it was a deserved home win.

Nagoya Grampus Eight Kashima Antlers 0-4
K: Marquinhos 4’,90’, Ogasawara 28’, Danilo 78’

Kashima were without a win for 7 matches before the summer-break, but have now won 2 matches within 4 days. The 4-0 throbbing of joint league-leaders Nagoya is nothing else than impressive, and they certainly looks to be back on track. In the period they struggled with poor results they had alot of injuries, and also had to deal with ACL-participation.
Their prolific goalscorer Marquinhos continues to impress, and in this match he scored twice. He opened the scoring after only 4 minutes with a right-footed shot following a smartly-taken throw in. Nagoya tried their best to answer to the early goal, and came close on a couple of occasions. Frode Johnsen actually managed to put the ball in the goal, but it was disallowed for off-side. Ogasawara scored the goal of the round after 28 minutes, when he saw Nagoya’s GK Narazaki a few metres out of his goal. Ogawasara tried his luck from near the midield with a lob-shot, and just managed to squeeze it in via the cross-bar. A marvellous strike, and critic to Narazaki who didn’t stay enough focused.
Kashima played a very good match defensively, and after their 2-0 goal they decided to slow things down. That resulted in Nagoya getting to more chances, and actually they had almost the double of shots than Kashima this match with 17 against 9. Nagoya’s biggest chance fell to Tamada on a PK, but the Japan International blasted hos shot over the bar.
Near the end of the match Danilo added a 3rd for KAshima with a middle-shot, and in the final minute Marquinhos completed the misery for Nagoya with his 2nd goal of the day following a quick counter. A big win, but the match weren’t as one-sided as the result suggests.

Albirex Niigata Kawasaki Frontale 2-1
A: Nagata 26’, Alessandro 52’
K: Ganaha 63’

Frontale lost their 3rd match in a row as they crashed 1-2 in Niigata against Albirex. A bitter defeat, and they should have gotten atleast a point from this.
Albirex looked pretty good before the break, and had a string of impressive results. Although they didn’t impress too much play-wise, they managed to pick up points in most of their matches. They continued with that here, and climbed to 10th with the win, just 1 point behind Frontale.
Mitsuru Nagata gave them the lead midway through the 1st half after a set-piece, and that proved to be the only goal before the break, leaving Albirex 1-0 up at half-time. Frontale looked the deadliest team among them though, and their 2 ace strikers Ganaha and Tese both got to chances.
A few minutes into the 2nd half, Albirex were given a somewhat dodgy penalty. Alessandro ”fell” dramatically to the ground, and the same man converted the penalty with ease. Things looked good for Albirex at that point, but 5 minutes after their 2-0 goal, right-back Nakano were sent off, and Frontale received a penalty-kick themselves. But Kazuki Ganaha missed from the penalty-spot, and Albirex were still two goal ahead. The same Ganaha managed to score just a few minutes later though, but despite an overwhelming advantage for the rest of the match, they failed to add a 2nd goal. Albirex ad 7 shots to Frontales 17, and in the end were lucky to take all points.

Shimizu S-Pulse Kyoto Purple Sanga 2-1
S: Edamura 53’, Hara 83’
K: Fernandinho 48’

Kyoto slipped 1-2 away at the hands of Shimizu this round, after a 2nd half comeback from the home team turned the match into their favour. But it was a somewhat lucky win, as Kyoto should have buried the match at an earlier point, and won this match pretty comfortably. The visitors had several big chances, and especially the new signing Fernandinho, acquired from Shimizu actually in the summer break, were a menace.
Fernandinho scored the opening goal of the match just after the break, and only had to tap it in from close range after some nice play on the left. A very deserved lead, but it didn’t take long for Shimizu to equalize. Edamura received the ball just outside the box in the 53rd minute, and got time to aim and shoot. His shot went in via the far post, but Kyoto’s keeper could easily have saved it as it wasn’t the hardest of shots.
After the equallizer, Kyoto once again took over, but they didn’t manage to find the net. The usually in-effective Yanagisawa squandered several chances this match as well, and his replacement Tahara fared likewise. In te final minutes SHimizu received a free-kick around midfield, and Fujimoto sent in a dangerous cross that were deflected in by Hara. Hara and Sidiclei both touched the ball it seems, but the striker were credited with the goal.
With that, Shimizu took their 5th win of the season, and went by Kyoto in the table. Shimizu were very effective this match, and scored 2 from oly 5 shots. Kyoto had a total of 16, and should have won it.

Omiya Ardija Tokyo Verdy 2-0
O: Denis Marques 4’, 56’

Omiya took a 2-0 win over Verdy at home this round, which propelled them into 7th place. J1 have been very closely contested this season, with no teams pulling away in the front, and just a couple of teams lagging far behind. So Omiya’s t7th place means they are only 4 points clear of 1st, but just 6 points ahead of Kobe, who holds the relegation play-off place.
A double from brazilian striker Denis Marquez secured the win for Omiya here, and it took him only 4 minutes to put Omiya up front. A blistering strike from distance and tight angle caught Verdy’s keeper Doi off guard, and the shot slipped past him. The rest of the first half were pretty static, but both teams managed to get to a couple of chances.
Shortly after the restart, Marques and Fujimoto found themselves alone with Doi, and Fujimoto neatly passed to Marques, who had an easy task of doubling the lead. 2-0, and with the way Verdy was playing they looked out of it already. They took many shots, but just a few of them really looked dangerous. The brazilian trio up front had one of their worser days, and were neutralized by ain impressive Omiya-defence. Omiya had 11 shots to Verdy’13, but despite being outshot, Omiya fully deserved the win.

J2 - round 23 results

Ehime FC Avispa Fukuoka 1-1
E: Kanamori 36’
A: Havenaar 28’

Neither Ehime or Avispa have had particularly good seasons so far, and 1-1 here is a result both of them are unhappy with. Avispa needs to win every game now if they want to climb the table, and Ehime are just a few points clear the last place.
The visitors got off to the best start, and had a big chance already in the opening minutes. But Suzuki’s good attempt from distance were marvellously saved by Ehime’s GK Tada. Tada got the chance between the posts when Kawakita got injured 5-6 weeks ago, and the former Cerezo-GK have done so well that he now keeps Kawakita,who’s fit again, out of the starting lineup. Avispa’s Nakamura dominated the midfield for the entire match, and were a constant threat against Ehime.
The opening goal of the match came after a corner, when Ufuk Talay’s cross found Havenaar who scored with his head. That was the young striker’s first ever J.League goal, in his first ever start for Avispa. He got the chance instead of Okubo this match, and the 194cm tall striker did a good job, and might get more chances after this. With his superior heigth, he will always form a threat if his team-mates will use him correctly, like Frode Johnsen in Nagoya.
But Avispa weren’t in the lead for long, and the home-team equalized just 8 minutes after through Kanamori. Ehime stood high in the pitch, and forced Avispa to lay low in defence. Eventually, Ehime managed to break through, and Kanamori gave them the equalizer.
For the 2nd half, Avispa were the controlling team, but only on occasions did they manage to get to big chances. They should have taken the lead in the dying minutes, but the strikers squandered a triple-chance, and in the end the teams shared the spoils. Ehime had 7 shots to Avispa’s 11, and an away-win should have been in place here.

Ventforet Kofu Shonan Bellmare 0-4
S: Abe 6’, Tamura 32’, Lincoln 83’,85’

Shonan delivered a very impressive match as they beat Kofu 4-0 away, and kickstarted their quest for promotion again. Shonan’s been a bit off the pace lately, and currently holds 7th. Their main problem has been in defence, with the continuing absence of brazilian Jean is a main factor of, but up front it has been good as they are the 2nd highest scoring team in the league.
Kofu got off to a bad start, and within minutes Shonan were 1-0 up, thanks to a neat lob from midfielder Abe. The opening of the match were quite entertaining, with both teams coming to chances. Shonan’s Adiel were a menace this match, and Kofu’s defenders never quite managed to stop him. Adiel were the man behind Shonan’s 2nd goal, when he neatly played free Tamura to make it 0-2.
The 2nd half weren’t as spectacular as the first, and Kofu looked to be running out of steam. Shonan were 2-0 up, and focused mostly on preserving their lead, and didn’t take too many chances going forward. Right before the end late-substitute Lincoln got on the scoresheet twice, to complete the humiliation of the home-team. Kofu has mediocre written all over them, and have not managed to live up to expectations. 0-4 here doesn’t justify the match, but no doubt Shonan were the best team. Kofu had 11 shots to Shonan’s 14.

Montedio Yamagata Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-1
M: Hasegawa 44’, 86’
S: Stoyanov 6’

The biggest match of the round took place in Yamagata, where 2nd place Montedio played hosts to league-leaders Sanfrecce. It was evenly matched game, but a goal near the end in each half for Montedio secured the win for the home-team.
Sanfrecce got off to the best start though, and DF Stoyanov gave them the lead after only 4 minutes.After the early goal, Sanfrecce adapted a more defensive strategy to the game, and only attacked when they had opportunities for quick counters. It seemed to work well for a while, but just before the break, Ishikawa broke loose on the left-hand side and found Hasegawa with a cross. The tall striker headed home the equalizer, which meant the teams were deadlocked by half-time.
Neither of the teams managed to build a momentum as the 2nd half started, and most of the play took place in midfield. We had to wait until late in the match for the next piece of action, and once again it was Hasegawa that were on target. Winger Ishikawa were the architect this time as well, as he sent in a low cross for Hasegawa who coolly placed his shot out of reach for the goalkeeper. But Hasegawa’s 2nd goal should have been disallowed, as he was clearly off-side. But the referee didn’t see the incident, and approved the goal. Both teams had 11 shots on goal, and both teams could have won it really.

Thespa took their 6th win in the last 7 matches when they beat Sagan 1-0 at home, and with that climbed to 5th in the table, ahead of Sagan on goal-difference. Impressive stuff from the small-town club, who looks invincible at the moment.
Thespa got off to a great start, and looked sharpest among the two teams for the entire first half. They created several big chances, and especially the inspiring Terada on the left-wing caused trouble for Sagan’s defence. Terada were also the man behind Thespa’s goal, as his cross from the left just before the break found Goto free in the box, who took a well-placed left-legged shot that went straight in. With that Thespa could go to half-time with a one-goal lead.
Sagan got more into the match for the 2nd half, and finally started to create some chances on their own. But despite outshooting Thespa this match, they didn’t really have too many big chances, and Thespa’s defence did a really good job keeping the strikers at a safe distance. A deserved win for Thespa, who continues with their impressive run.

Gifu’s magnificent away-form continued when they beat struggling Tokushima 1-0 away this round. A 2nd half goal from substitute Kojima secured the win for the visitors. Kojima scored the first ever J.League goal for Gifu, and added his 2nd this match.
It was a evenly contested match, but Gifu had the biggest chances and also got off to the best start. A big chance after a corner-kick should have resulted in a goal, but a mix-up between a couple of Gifu-attackers saw the chance go begging.
The only goal of the match came midway through the 2nd half, when Kojima used his skills to make room for himselves before he took a left-footed shot that flew past Tokushima’s goalkeeper. A deserved lead, and Tokushima had a tough task ahead of themselves getting back into the game. Without FW Doumbia, they struggled to create too much up front, but the introduction of Andrè and Onishi after Gifu’s goal seemed to have a positive effect, and they managed to create a couple of dangerous situations near the end. But they failed to find the net, and in the end Gifu could clock another win away from home. Tokushima had 10 shots to Gifu’s 8.
Mito Hollyhock Vegalta Sendai 3-4
M: Arata 55’, Muramatsu 70’, Owada 73’
V: Ryan Yong-Gi 4’,19’, Tamura 27’, Hirase 77’

After being 0-3 down by half-time, Mito managed to equalize Vegalta’s lead only to see a late goal from Vegalta’s Hirase secure all points for the visitors. Vegalta got off to a great start, and korean Ryan Yong-Gi gave them the lead on a free-kick a few minutes after kick-off. The speedy midfielder added another a short while after, whe he converted a penalty-kick. Vegalta were very efficient in the first half, and scored on pretty much all their chances. Tamura’s shot from distance after 27 minutes should normally mean Mito were out of the game, but the home-team showed great poise and put in alot of work to get back into the game soon as the 2nd half started. FW Arata, who’s been the most trigger-happy striker in the league so far, reduced just 10 minutes after the break. The striker isn’t among the most effective, but he always comes to chances, and sooner or later he has to score. Mito put Vegalta under huge pressure, and came to alot of goal-scoring opportunities. Within 3 minutes midway through the half Mito scored 2 goals and had managed to equal Vegalta’s lead. First a shot from Muramatsu, then a well-placed header from DF Owada following a corner-kick. With little time left, and with Mito looking the sharpest, many thought Mito might run away with and complete the comeback with another goal. That didn’t happen though, and instead the veteran striker Hirase put Vegalta 4-3 up with a nice effort just a few minutes after Mito’s equalizer. A dramatic end to a very entertaining match. Mito had 14 shots to Vegalta’s 10, and deserved atleast a point, especially after the impressive comeback. Credit to Vegalta for not losing focus despite seeing a 3-goal-lead being equalled though.