East Asia Japan

Kawasaki On Fire as They Blast Five Past Cerezo

Kawasaki Frontale go 11 matches unbeaten as they eased their way to victory on Wednesday night’s J.League 1 action. Taking on Cerezo Osaka, who were one of Kawasaki’s closest rivals on the J1 table, the men from Kanagawa Prefecture easily crushed their Matchweek 11 opponents 5-2 at the Todoroki Athletics Stadium despite going behind early in the match. It’s a match between the immoveable object against the unstoppable force, with Cerezo’s steel-hard defense – the best in the league so far with only 6 goals conceded prior to Wednesday night – going up against Kawasaki’s blistering attack – the best in the league so far with 29 goals scored.

Brazilian Bruno Mendes had given Cerezo the lead in the 6th minute after being given the perfect through ball by Yusuke Maruhashi, however only fourteen minutes later the hosts drew level through Yasuto Wakizaka’s sublime free-kick. Kawasaki then turned things around and took the lead around three minutes before half-time, after Maruhashi had fouled Akihiro Ienaga inside the penalty box. Veteran midfielder Ienaga took it upon himself to dispatch the ensuing penalty, which he did with crisp perfection to make it 2-1 Kawasaki going into the break.

Another Kawasaki veteran made it 3-1 early into the second half and it’s talismanic striker Yu Kobayashi who extended the hosts’ lead. Ryota Oshima sent a long ball into the Cerezo penalty box in the 52nd minute, which was headed by Kobayashi towards Ienaga. Ienaga plays it short towards Kyohei Noborizato, who made his way towards the Cerezo goal. Noborizato stumbled slightly and lost possession, however the ball made its way towards Kobayashi who smashed home Kawasaki’s third with a powerful close-ranged shot.

Miguel Angel Lotina’s Cerezo refused to give up just yet despite trailing by two goals and in the 57th minute the men in pink managed to claw one back. A free-kick taken by Maruhashi was cleared poorly by Kobayashi, allowing Ayumu Seko to tap in Cerezo’s second of the night.

However all hopes of a Cerezo fightback were extinguished late into the game, with Toru Oniki’s Kawasaki refusing to reduce their attacking intensity after Seko’s goal. Substitute Kaoru Mitoma scored for the third match in a row in the 74th minute to make it 4-2, before fellow substitute Leandro Damiao sealed the three points for Kawasaki with a close-ranged finish in the 76th minute.

The 5-2 win meant that Kawasaki have won their 10th match in a row – a J1 record since the league abolished penalty shootouts for drawn matches in 1999. Kawasaki’s 0-0 draw with Sagan Tosu in the opening day of the 2020 season remained their only blemish in the league this season and Oniki’s charges are set to distance themselves from the chasing pack as they pursue their third J1 title in four years.

A classic was served up at the IAI Stadium Nihondaira as Shimizu S-Pulse and Yokohama F. Marinos played out a seven-goal thriller which the latter won out 4-3. The match was billed as another edition of the Thai Derby with the presence of Thai internationals Teerasil Dangda at Shimizu and Theerathon Bunmathan at Yokohama, but in reality this was an acid test for Shimizu head coach Peter Cklamovski, who went up against his mentor Ange Postecoglou in the Yokohama dugout. Cklamovski had served as Ange’s assistant at Melbourne Victory, the Australia national team, and Yokohama, and with Shimizu the Australian seek to prove that he’s a capable head coach just like his former mentor.

Theerathon was absent from the Yokohama squad altogether as Teerasil only made a brief cameo during the closing stages of the match, which saw Shimizu and Yokohama exchange goals in a pulsating first half that ended 2-2. The second half saw Yokohama stamping their dominance by going 4-2 up, but Shimizu refused to die until the very end as Takashi Kanai’s goal in the dying minutes of the match ensured that Yokohama underwent a nervy few minutes to retain their lead and three points.

Elsewhere, late goals deny both Oita Trinita and FC Tokyo all three points as they were forced to share the spoils with their opponents. Lucas Fernandes’ goal in the 89th minute meant that Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo managed to survive their encounter with Oita at the Sapporo Dome, with 1-1 being the final scoreline. Meanwhile, at the Hiroshima Big Arch, both FC Tokyo and Sanfrecce Hiroshima played out an exciting 3-3 draw, with Hayao Kawabe’s goal in injury time denying FC Tokyo the win.

Urawa Red Diamonds emerged triumphant over Gamba Osaka away at the Panasonic Suita Stadium with the former winning 3-1 at their opponent’s backyard, while Yokohama FC managed to stun Kashima Antlers 1-0 at the NHK Spring Mitsuzawa Stadium. Nagoya Grampus recovered from their Matchweek 10 setback at FC Tokyo with a 1-0 win away at Shonan Bellmare, while yet another goal from Kenyan international Michael Olunga as well as an injury time winner from Masatoshi Mihara sent Kashiwa Reysol to all three points with a remarkable 3-2 comeback win at Vissel Kobe.

With Tosu still shuttering operations due to COVID-19, Vegalta Sendai could afford to rest their legs in Matchweek 11 as their match against the Kyushu-based side is postponed indefinitely.

Kawasaki’s win over Cerezo meant that the men from Kanagawa Prefecture established a massive 10-point gap between themselves and Cerezo, who remain second. Nagoya’s win over Shonan meant that they are third after Matchweek 11, while 4th place belongs to Urawa thanks to their win over Gamba. Shonan remained dead last on the J1 table, with Tosu and Shimizu completing the bottom three.