East Asia Japan

Defending Champions Are Stunned as Kashima Finally End Nightmare Start

Krishna Sadhana

Football Tribe SEA Editor


Defending J.League 1 champions Yokohama F. Marinos were shocked on Saturday night after they lost 4-2 to a Kashima Antlers side who, up until the match, were yet to win a competitive game and yet to score a competitive goal. Ayase Ueda proved himself to be a talent for the future as the 21-year old scored a brace that sank Yokohama into the lower half of the J1 table.

Describing Kashima’s season so far as a disappointment would be a severe understatement. With Antonio Carlos Zago now at the helm following the resignation of the successful Go Oiwa, the Brazilian oversaw a nightmarish start to the season which saw Kashima dumped out of the AFC Champions League, beaten in their first J.League Cup match prior to the COVID-19 suspension, and being in the unfamiliar position that is bottom of the league with zero points. And while Yokohama has been struggling as well this season, most would expect that Ange Postecoglou’s men would condemn Kashima into another defeat.

Four minutes into the Matchweek 5 encounter at the Kashima Soccer Stadium, the hosts shocked the defending champions by drawing first blood. Captain Kento Misao managed to wrestle the ball off his opponent near the center circle, before laying the ball off towards Everaldo. The Brazilian raced his way through the left wing and crossed the ball over to Ueda, who slams home from close range to score Kashima’s first competitive goal of the season.

The goal immediately sent Yokohama into the offensive and they were quick to establish their fast-paced style of play that won them the league last year. Eight minutes after Ueda’s opener, Ange’s men managed to grab the equalizer after a superb counterattacking move between Teruhito Nakagawa and Marcos Junior was finished off by the latter with an excellent tap-in.

With the scoreline now level, both Kashima and Yokohama exchanged attack after attack. Marcos saw his freekick hitting the crossbar in the 25th minute, while Yokohama goalkeeper Yuji Kajikawa managed to stop Ueda from scoring again late into the first half.

As the referee blew for half-time, the scoreline remained level at 1-1.

Kashima started off the second half well and showed their counterattacking prowess to fight off Yokohama’s style of play and soon enough, they reassumed the lead. In the 58th minute, Rikuto Hirose sent a pin-point cross from the right wing, which Ueda lapped up happily, striking home Kashima’s second of the night and completing his brace.

Former Queretaro FC man Everaldo then made it 3-1 Kashima after capping off a brilliant counterattacking move in the 67th minute. Marcos completed his own brace in the 70th minute to reduce the deficit for Yokohama with a well-taken curler, however Kashima soon planted the final nail in Yokohama’s coffin in the 81st minute, after a screamer from Ryohei Shirasaki left Kajikawa stunned and speechless as the ball went over his head and into the goal.

The match ended 4-2 in favor of Kashima, a well-welcomed tonic for Zago’s men who were in dire straits coming into the game. The result hasn’t moved Kashima off the lower half of the J1 table, but it was at least enough to lift them off last place.

Elsewhere, Gamba Osaka fought back from a goal down to beat Oita Trinita 2-1 at the Panasonic Stadium Suita, while Kawasaki Frontale strengthened their grip on the J1 summit with a 5-1 demolition job of Yokohama FC at the NHK Spring Mitsuzawa Stadium. Nagoya Grampus also retained their unbeaten record after a Naoki Maeda goal earned them a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Sagan Tosu at the Toyota Stadium.

Chanathip Songkrasin and Shunta Tanaka were the heroes for Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo as they fought back from 2-0 down to salvage a 2-2 draw away at Vegalta Sendai, with the Thai international’s 62nd minute goal sparking the comeback for the Northerners before the point was earned thanks to Shunta’s injury-time equalizer. At the Hitachi Stadium Kashiwa, a brace from Kenyan international Michael Olunga ensured that Kashiwa Reysol edged out Shonan Bellmare 3-2, while Shimizu S-Pulse remained the only J1 team without a point after a Kyogo Furuhashi brace meant that the orange side of Shizuoka Prefecture went down 3-1 at Vissel Kobe. Meanwhile, at the Hiroshima Big Arch, hosts Sanfrecce Hiroshima were beaten 2-1 by Cerezo Osaka.

Last but not least, FC Tokyo sent FC Rostov-bound Kento Hashimoto off on a high after the Gasmen triumphed 2-0 over Urawa Red Diamonds at the Ajinomoto Stadium. Kento played the full 90 minutes in his last match for FC Tokyo before leaving for Russia as Diego Oliveira and Adailton sealed all three points for the capital side.