J1 League Recap: Unbeaten Sanfrecce seize first; Reds remain winless

The J1 League returned to action following the recent international period with its fifth round as clubs geared up for a busy period of matches which will last until the league’s two-month break for the FIFA World Cup.

The round’s first match took place on Friday night, with Kashiwa Reysol defeating Vissel Kobe 2-1. Junya Ito’s second goal of the night, in the 86th minute, was enough to negate Junya Tanaka’s equalizer for Vissel with 16 minutes left to play.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima returned to the top of the J1 table for the first time since 2015 with a somewhat controversial 1-0 win at reigning champions Kawasaki Frontale. After spending much of the match on the defensive, the visitors took the lead in the 85th minute when Patric headed home from a corner kick.

Frontale set out quickly for an equaliser and appeared to find it just before stoppage time when Tatsuya Hasegawa stuffed a rebound off Sanfrecce defender Hiroki Mizumoto into the net. However the goal was called off after consultation between the referees, prompting criticism by Frontale manager Toru Oniki after the match.

Other than Sanfrecce, the only unbeaten team left in the J1 are Vegalta Sendai, who defeated V-Varen Nagasaki 1-0 thanks to a first half goal by Takuma Nishimura.

At Ajinomoto Stadium, FC Tokyo handed a loss to manager Kenta Hasegawa’s former club Gamba Osaka with Diego Oliveira scoring the game-winner in a wild 3-2 result. The loss left Gamba with a 0-1-4 record to start the campaign.

Saturday night saw another 3-2 barnburner, with Sagan Tosu overcoming Gabriel Xavier’s brace to defeat Nagoya Grampus through goals by Hideto Takahashi, Victor Ibarbo, and Kyosuke Tagawa in the final 20 minutes of the match.

The last match of the weekend offered plenty more thrills, with Jubilo Iwata fighting back for a 2-1 win over Urawa Reds as Kengo Kawamata scored twice. That result was the last straw for the reigning Asian champions, who fired manager Takafumi Hori on Monday morning.

Full Results: 2018 MEIJI YASUDA J1 League Round 5

Kashiwa Reysol 2-1 Vissel Kobe

Vegalta Sendai 1-0 V-Varen Nagasaki

Shimizu S-Pulse 0-1 Yokohama F. Marinos

Kashima Antlers 0-0 Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo

FC Tokyo 3-2 Gamba Osaka

Kawasaki Frontale 0-1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima

Cerezo Osaka 2-1 Shonan Bellmare

Sagan Tosu 3-2 Nagoya Grampus

Jubilo Iwata 2-1 Urawa Reds