FC Tokyo and Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo battled out to a scoreless draw on Sunday, giving MEIJI YASUDA J1 League leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima some breathing room as their gap from second place expanded to 10 points.
The second and third place sides traded attack for attack on a rainy Sunday evening at Ajinomoto Stadium, but impressive performances by Tokyo goalkeeper Akihito Hayashi and his Sapporo Gu Sung-yun kept both sheets clean in front of just under 25,000 fans.
The visitors were happy to get 78 minutes from striker Jay Bothroyd, who returned to action for the first time in over a month after recovering from a thigh injury. He was even happier to last until the second half after receiving a studs-up tackle early in the match from Kento Hashimoto, who was shown a yellow card.
“We came to win; it was a big game in tough conditions. But you can’t tackle like that, studs up, high,” Bothroyd said after the match. “I don’t like to criticize referees but there were some dubious decisions.
“It was a cagey game, two teams wanting to win, challenging for the league and ACL positions. I’m glad I came out of the game [when I did]. I’m a bit sore but I’ll be able to play in the next game.”
Despite his side being held scoreless for the fifth time this season, Tokyo manager Kenta Hasegawa praised his players’ performance after the “fun” encounter.
“We had some big chances, and it’s disappointing (not to win) but the players gave it their all,” he told reporters. “It was a scoreless draw but both teams played their best, and we want to win these sorts of matches in the future.”
While both Tokyo and Consadole may have been happy to take points from the encounter, both lost ground to Sanfrecce Hiroshima who reached 37 points after a come-from-behind 3-1 win at Vegalta Sendai. Brazilian striker Patric scored twice, becaming the first player of this year’s J1 campaign to reach double-digits.
Elsewhere, Kawasaki Frontale climbed into fourth with a 2-1 win at Kashiwa Reysol on Saturday afternoon. The home loss was the last straw for the 2011 champions, who on Sunday replaced manager Takahiro Shimotaira with head coach Nozomu Kato after a 5-2-7 record to start the season.
Full Results: 2018 J1 League Round 14
Shimizu S-Pulse 4-2 Shonan Bellmare
Jubilo Iwata 0-2 Vissel Kobe
V-Varen Nagasaki 3-0 Nagoya Grampus
Kashiwa Reysol 1-2 Kawasaki Frontale
Vegalta Sendai 1-3 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Yokohama F. Marinos 1-1 Gamba Osaka
Urawa Reds 0-0 Sagan Tosu
FC Tokyo 0-0 Consadole Sapporo
Cerezo Osaka vs. Kashima Antlers will take place on July 25 due to AFC Champions League-related scheduling