J1 Recap: Cerezo rise to third, Sanfrecce remain unbeaten

A Toshiyuki Takagi goal helped Cerezo Osaka rise to third place on Saturday in the eighth round of the 2018 MEIJI YASUDA J1 League, while leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima widened the gap at the top of the table.

Cerezo spent plenty of time on the back foot against visitors FC Tokyo, but came out on top in the 1-0 result when 26-year-old Takagi took advantage of a defensive miscue to easily round goalkeeper Akihiro Hayashi and score the game-winner.

Last year’s third place finishers now trail Vegalta Sendai on goal difference after the Tohoku side battled defending champions Kawasaki Frontale to a scoreless draw at Yurtec Stadium. But both teams are now seven points behind Sanfrecce, who benefited from another Patric brace to win 2-0 at Shonan Bellmare.

Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo extended their unbeaten streak to five matches with a 2-1 win at Kashiwa Reysol, as ace striker Ken Tokura scored his second straight game-winner to mark his 100th J1 appearance. Mihailo Petrovic’s men now find themselves alone in fourth place and tied with Cerezo, Tokyo, and Vissel Kobe for the league’s best attack with 12 goals to their credit.

Slightly under 9,000 fans were on hand for a historical afternoon at Transcosmos Stadium on Saturday as V-Varen Nagasaki seized their first-ever home J1 win with a 3-0 thrashing of Gamba Osaka. Keita Nakamura, Hijiri Onaga, and Shogo Nakahara all made deposits to their accounts at the expense of last-place Gamba, whose disastrous 1-1-6 start is even worse than that of their 2012 campaign which notoriously ended in the club’s first relegation.

There will be little rest for the league this week, with all 18 clubs taking part in Levain Cup or AFC Champions League action before the J1’s ninth round takes place on April 21 and 22.

Full Results for J1 Round 8

Kashima Antlers 2-0 Nagoya Grampus

Kashiwa Reysol 1-2 Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo

V-Varen Nagasaki 3-0 Gamba Osaka

Cerezo Osaka 1-0 FC Tokyo

Vegalta Sendai 0-0 Kawasaki Frontale

Yokohama F. Marinos 1-2 Vissel Kobe

Jubilo Iwata 1-0 Sagan Tosu

Urawa Reds 2-1 Shimizu S-Pulse

Shonan Bellmare 0-2 Sanfrecce Hiroshima