Yokohama F. Marinos have pushed themselves into the thick of the title race, winning 4-2 over Consadole Sapporo to leap-frog Kashima Antlers into second place, just one point behind leaders FC Tokyo.
The hosts came into this game with six wins from their last seven games, allowing them to surpass their ambitions of merely qualifying for a Champions League place and have a genuine shot at winning their first title since 2004.
This match was significant for viewers in Thailand, as it marked the 50th J-League appearance of Yokohama left-back Theerathon Bunmathan, making him the second Thai player to reach this milestone. The first, Chanathip Songkrasin, also took to the field for Consadole.
The game exploded into life right from the off, as Yokohama capitalized on Consadole keeper Gu Sung-Yun’s failure to play out from the back in the 2nd minute. Striker Erik disposed the stranded goalie with ease and slotted the ball into an empty net from the edge of the box.
The hosts then doubled their lead just two minutes later, with a cross from Teruhito Nakagawa finding Erik unmarked in the box, setting up the Brazilian’s brace with just four minutes gone in the match.
Consadole were left shellshocked, but managed to pull themselves back into the game from a corner, with Musashi Suzuki slamming in the rebound after the goalkeeper parried an initial header into his path.
Yokohama restored their two-goal lead in the 23rd minute, when Nakagawa caught Consadole on the break, taking the ball from a scramble in midfield and breaking past the last line of defense with relative ease. The 27-year-old forward once again punished the Consadole goalkeeper for coming off his line, dribbling around the onrushing Gu and finding the net once again.
The game was sealed when Marcos Junior added a fourth from the penalty spot, rendering Musashi Suzuki’s second goal a mere consolation for the Hokkaido Islanders.
Earlier that day, Kashima were beaten 2-0 by defending champions Kawasaki Frontale, who currently sit in fourth. Goals from Kazuya Yamamura and Tetsuya Hasegawa in the 62nd and 71st minutes respectively were enough to down the hosts, who are now three points behind the league leaders.