Defending J.League 1 champions Yokohama F. Marinos showed no mercy on Saturday as they thoroughly dismantle FC Tokyo 4-0 away at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Matchweek 24 of the 2020 J1 season. A brace from Brazilian Junior Santos paved the way towards three points for Ange Postecoglou’s Yokohama side, with FC Tokyo ending the match with 10 men after Arthur Silva’s second half dismissal.
A trip to 3rd placed FC Tokyo is always a daunting task, however 7th placed Yokohama made mincemeat out of the assignment given to them as they ruthlessly tore apart Kenta Hasegawa’s Gasmen in an explosive second half performance. The brilliant showing by Ange’s men in the second stanza belittled the fact that Yokohama had to play a midweek fixture last Wednesday – a 2-1 home win over Nagoya Grampus, but judging by how Yokohama brutally smashed FC Tokyo to pieces, it seems that it was Yokohama who had the midweek off and thus, fresher legs.
With both Yokohama and FC Tokyo chasing qualification to next year’s AFC Champions League, the two Greater Tokyo Area teams fielded strong lineups at the Ajinomoto. Despite Yokohama fielding an especially strong team, the buildup towards the showdown saw Ange rue over the fact that his team had to play a condensed schedule to accommodate next month’s 2020 AFC Champions League East Zone action, which has been postponed since February due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was difficult. I had to make seven changes to today’s team and eight changes on Wednesday’s team. That’s not normal, ” Ange said before the match, “Even though I’m making so many changes, the players are adapting and trying to stick to our game plan. They have a strong mentality, and we’ll become a stronger team because of this.”
The first half was quite uneventful, with FC Tokyo threatening Park Iru-gyu’s goal through Kyosuke Tagawa and Hirotaka Mita. The hosts pretty much had control of the first half but Yokohama did well defensively against a side renowned for their deadly counterattacks.
However, the game sparked into life in the 54th minute. A pin-point cross from the right flank by Erik Lima was well-welcomed by Santos, who left FC Tokyo captain Tsuyoshi Watanabe biting the dust before smashing home a shot that went past FC Tokyo custodian Akihiro Hayashi.
Santos then bagged his second in the 56th minute, taking advantage of a failed clearance to double Yokohama’s lead with a well-taken shot from 3 meters out.
As if things couldn’t get worse for FC Tokyo, they were forced to play with 10 men after Arthur was shown a straight red in the 63rd minute for punching Yokohama defender Ken Matsubara.
Adding salt into FC Tokyo’s injuries, Tsuyoshi capped off an extremely lousy day at the office by inadvertently scoring Yokohama’s third, deflecting a Kota Mizunuma shot into Hayashi’s goal in first minute of injury time. Erik then added the icing into Yokohama’s cake by scoring his side’s fourth in the fifth minute of injury time, sealing a dominant 4-0 win over a battered FC Tokyo.
Saturday’s other Matchweek 24 action saw Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo demolishing Yokohama FC 3-0 at the Sapporo Dome, while Kashima Antlers edged out Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 at the Kashima Soccer Stadium. 5th placed Nagoya crept themselves closer to the now 4th placed FC Tokyo with a 1-0 win over Vegalta Sendai at the Paloma Mizuho Stadium, a result that condemned Vegalta into the J1 basement. Gamba Osaka boosted themselves to 2nd place with a 2-1 home win over Kashiwa Reysol at the Panasonic Stadium Suita, while city rivals Cerezo Osaka succumbed to a 3-1 defeat away at Urawa Red Diamonds.
Wrapping up the action for Matchweek 24 is Sunday’s match between Sagan Tosu and Shonan Bellmare at the Ekimae Real Estate Stadium in Tosu – a reverse of last Wednesday’s midweek clash that saw Shonan drawing 0-0 with Tosu at the Shonan BMW Stadium Hiratsuka.