Football Tribe SEA Editor
Headlining Sunday night’s J.League 1 Matchweek 4 action was a mouthwatering clash between FC Tokyo and Yokohama F. Marinos at Yokohama’s Nissan Stadium. The tie saw last season’s defending champions Yokohama taking on last season’s runners-up FC Tokyo, in a repeat of the final game of last season that saw Yokohama clinch their first J1 title in 15 years after beating FC Tokyo 3-0. However, the Gasmen were eager for some revenge this time out and they got just that, coming back from a goal down to stun Yokohama 3-1.
Ange Postecoglou’s Yokohama had a rather hot-and-cold start to the season. They lost to Gamba Osaka in the opening day of the season before Urawa Red Diamonds forced them to a goalless draw in the first league match after the COVID-19 suspension was lifted. Yokohama then got themselves their first win of the season in their latest match before Sunday’s showdown, a 3-2 thriller against Shonan Bellmare. By contrast, FC Tokyo has been steamrolling opponents left, right, and center, although their momentum was cut short quite emphatically in their latest match, after Kawasaki Frontale had scored four goals against them without reply in the latest edition of the Tamagawa Clasico.
Yokohama started off the game brightly and immediately they went for the offensive. In the 4th minute of the match, Kota Mizunuma crossed the ball towards Ado Onaiwu, however the Nigerian-Japanese had a defender marking him very tightly. Onaiwu dinked the ball towards Keita Endo, who received the ball and slammed in the opening goal. 1-0 for the defending champions and a repeat of Kawasaki’s destruction of FC Tokyo might be on the cards here.
But Kenta Hasegawa’s Gasmen had other ideas. They refused to give up that easily after that early goal and in the 16th minute their determination was rewarded sweetly. Kyosuke Tagawa made a run towards the Yokohama penalty area, only to be bundled within the box by Thiago Martins. The referee made no hesitation to point at the spot and Diego Oliveira was tasked with dispatching the penalty. The Brazilian made no mistake from the spot and bagged FC Tokyo’s equalizer.
With the scores level, both Yokohama and FC Tokyo sized each other up, attempting a number of forays into each other’s defenses as they waited for an opening to present itself. Unfortunately for Yokohama, they allowed such opening to present itself at the end of the first half. FC Tokyo were given a free-kick on the edge of the Yokohama penalty area, which was taken by Leandro. The former Kashima Antlers player curved his free-kick into the Yokohama goal, earning FC Tokyo the lead as the match entered half-time.
Almost immediately after the second half has started, FC Tokyo sealed the game and with it the three points. Kensuke Nagai utilized his speed to beat the Yokohama offside trap, before teeing the ball towards Leandro. The Brazilian smashed the ball immediately after receiving it, completing his brace and ensuring that FC Tokyo are cruising towards victory.
Yokohama tried their best to claw their way back into the game throughout the second half, however despite the amount of chances that Ange’s men carved out, they were unable to make any of them count. FC Tokyo hang onto their lead tightly and ended the match with an impressive, come-from-behind 3-1 win, avenging their 3-0 loss from last season’s encounter at the same stadium.
Elsewhere, Cerezo Osaka’s 100% start to the season came to a screeching halt after an own goal from Matej Jonjic and a goal from Hiroyuki Abe meant that Nagoya Grampus left the Nagai Stadium with a 2-0 win. Both Shonan and Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo played out a goalless draw at the Shonan BMW Stadium Hiratsuka, with the same goalless scoreline being the final result at the Ekimae Real Estate Stadium as hosts Sagan Tosu forced Sanfrecce Hiroshima to a draw.
Substitute Kazuma Watanabe was the hero for Gamba as his 89th minute goal ensured a 2-1 win over Shimizu S-Pulse at the IAI Stadium Nihondaira, while both Yokohama FC and Vegalta Sendai share the spoils in a 1-1 draw.
Last but not least, a 52nd minute goal from Ewerton ensured a 1-0 win for Urawa over Kashima, whose nightmarish start to the season is still in full swing. The defeat meant that Kashima remained rooted to the foot of the J1 table, with Shimizu one place above them, the two teams are still looking for their first wins of the season. Following their win over Kashiwa Reysol on Saturday, Kawasaki led the way with 10 points from 4 matches, while Urawa are in 2nd place with 10 points as well. Cerezo and FC Tokyo, both of them having 9 points, rounded off the top four.