J1 League Recap: Frontale rise to first, Vissel and F. Marinos earn first wins of season

Defending MEIJI YASUDA J1 League champions Kawasaki Frontale will enter the international break on top of the table following the league’s fourth round on Sunday, March 18.

Playing away at unbeaten Nagoya Grampus, Frontale found their game-winner from substitute Yoshito Okubo, who headed in Kengo Nakamura’s free kick on his first touch of the match after coming on in the 65th minute.

Grampus came close to equalising in stoppage time, but Hisato Sato’s last-gasp effort was parried by Frontale goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong on the line before bouncing off the post and being cleared by a defender.

At Saitama Stadium, Yokohama F. Marinos striker Hugo Viera was rewarded for his persistence when he slotted home the 1-0 game winner against Urawa Reds. The result was the first J.League win for F. Marinos manager Ange Postecoglou, while reigning Asian champions Reds are 0-2-2 heading into the break.

F. Marinos were among a number of clubs to find their first wins of the season, including Consadole Sapporo who needed a dramatic Chanathip header to prevail 2-1 over V-Varen Nagasaki. FC Tokyo earned their first full points of the campaign thanks to newcomer Diego Oliveira’s spectacular strike, which opened the second half of their 1-0 win over Shonan Bellmare.

Noevir Stadium was the scene of a one-sided Kansai Derby as Vissel Kobe ran rampant over struggling Cerezo Osaka. Hiroyuki Fujita scored on a rebound from the edge of the penalty area to give Vissel the lead in the 34th minute, while captain Lukas Podolski sealed the 2-0 result with a clever solo effort in the closing minutes of regulation time.

Meanwhile, Gamba Osaka’s league winless streak remains unbroken from last September after they needed a Hwang Eui-jo brace to draw 2-2 against Kashiwa Reysol, who jumped to an early 2-0 lead courtesy of a pair of goals by Ataru Esaka.

Full Results: J1 League Round 4

Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo 2-1 V-Varen Nagasaki

Shimizu S-Pulse 1-1 Vegalta Sendai

FC Tokyo 1-0 Shonan Bellmare

Gamba Osaka 2-2 Kashiwa Reysol

Urawa Reds 0-1 Yokohama F. Marinos

Vissel Kobe 2-0 Cerezo Osaka

Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0-0 Jubilo Iwata

Sagan Tosu 0-1 Kashima Antlers

Nagoya Grampus 0-1 Kawasaki Frontale