East Asia Japan

Mitoma Shines Yet Again as Defending Champions Are Beaten

Kaoru Mitoma continued his excellent run of form for Kawasaki Frontale as the J.League 1 leaders easily recovered from being a goal down to topple defending J1 champions Yokohama F. Marinos 3-1 at the Nissan Stadium on Saturday. Mitoma scored a brace in the Matchweek 14 encounter that was interrupted by a sudden heavy downpour that disabled both Kawasaki and Yokohama from displaying their full attacking flair.

The clash between the current J1 leaders and the defending J1 champions always promises to bring spice for the audience, with both teams known throughout the J1 for their offensive style of play. Hosts Yokohama even raced into a 1-0 lead after just two minutes, with Marcos Junior receiving a cross from Eitaro Matsuda before executing a cool finish past Kawasaki goalie Jung Sung-ryong.

Despite being down so early in the game, Kawasaki showed their credentials as the frontrunners of this year’s J1 title as they equalized in the 33rd minute, thanks to a superb solo finish by Mitoma. Both sides then continued to exchange attack after attack, however neither gained any upper-hand as the referee blew for half-time.

Kawasaki then unchained themselves at the start of the second half and ripped Yokohama’s defense to shreds in the opening 5 minutes of the second 45 – Akihiro Ienaga hammering in Ryota Oshima’s cross in the 48th minute before Mitoma completed his brace after being fed the ball by substitute Reo Hatate in the 50th minute.

Now finding themselves in a disadvantage, Yokohama tried to chase the game with their usual attacking style, however heavy rain that came after Mitoma’s second goal effectively hampered their usual style of play. Kawasaki were also put into a disadvantage by the downpour, with Mitoma failing to complete his hat-trick with a couple of missed chances late into the match.

The 3-1 win cemented Kawasaki at the J1 summit with 38 points, while Yokohama are stuck on 8th with 21 points.

Matchweek 14 saw all but two home teams losing their matches, with the only two exceptions being Cerezo Osaka demolishing Urawa Red Diamonds 3-0 at the Nagai Stadium and Sagan Tosu, in their first game after resuming operations following a COVID-19 shutdown, triumphing 3-0 over Yokohama FC at the Ekimae Real Estate Stadium.

A single Shuto Abe goal was enough for FC Tokyo to overcome hosts Oita Trinita at the Showa Denko Dome, while Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Sanfrecce Hiroshima at the Sapporo Atsubetsu Stadium.

Nagoya Grampus found themselves going down 3-1 at the hands of Kashima Antlers at the Toyota Stadium, while Kashiwa Reysol overcame a Shimizu S-Pulse challenge at the IAI Stadium Nihondaira 2-1 thanks to two early goals. Gamba Osaka did well to recover from conceding an early goal to destroy Vegalta Sendai 4-1 at the Yurtec Stadium, while last but not least Shonan Bellmare and Vissel Kobe played out a 1-1 draw at the Shonan BMW Stadium Hiratsuka.