East Asia Japan

Leaders Frontale Gets Nasty Consadole Surprise

The latest edition of the Osaka Derby was the headline match of Tuesday’s J.League 1 Matchweek 26 action, however the clash between Cerezo and Gamba at the Nagai Stadium was not the standout result of said matchweek. Instead, runaway league leaders Kawasaki Frontale received a nasty surprise from Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo at their very own Todoroki Athletics Stadium, with Kawasaki slumping to a shock 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Northerners. Two quick goals in the second half was enough to kill Kawasaki off, ending their 12-match winning run.

With only one defeat and two draws in their previous 25 J1 matches, Kawasaki had indeed set a higher standard of play above everybody else, establishing themselves as the team to beat this season. Kawasaki’s 0-0 draw with Sagan Tosu on the opening day of the 2020 season was the only time that Toru Oniki’s men had dropped points this season at the Todoroki, so naturally people were expecting yet another cakewalk for the hosts as mid-table Consadole paid Kawasaki a visit.

Consadole had a decent run of form as of late, winning three of their last five games and losing two, however those three wins came at either the Sapporo Dome or the Sapporo Atsubetsu Stadium, while the two losses were received on the road. Thus with that in mind, a good majority expected Kawasaki to steamroll themselves to yet another win, especially considering in their first meeting this season Kawasaki had absolutely destroyed Mihailo Petrovic’s men 6-1 in Sapporo.

But that’s the beauty of football – it can produce some unexpected results.

Thai international Chanathip Songkrasin and Brazilian Lucas Fernandes foreshadowed the horror that Kawasaki would endure for the remainder of the match as they almost gave Consadole the lead in the 5th minute, with the two combining for a dangerous chance taken by the latter. Kawasaki custodian Jung Sung-ryong was on-hand to deny Lucas’ shot, but this early chance was the taste to what’s to come.

Implementing a pressing style of play, Consadole tried their best to contain Kawasaki within the latter’s own area, which paid off quite nicely for the Northerners. After blanking Kawasaki throughout the first half, Petrovic decided to withdraw both Chanathip and Tomoki Takamine for Brazilian duo Douglas and Anderson Lopes in the 61st minute, a move that would provide Consadole with the breakthrough that they’re seeking just a minute afterwards.

Yoshiaki Komai managed to wrestle possession away from a Kawasaki player before laying the ball off towards Anderson, who was making his way into the Kawasaki penalty box. Immediately Anderson accepted the ball from Komai and despite the Kawasaki defenders’ best attempt in marking him, Anderson managed to fire a well-taken shot that went above an onrushing Jung and into the Kawasaki goal.

Stunned by Consadole’s opener, Kawasaki were then dealt another punch to the gut only three minutes after Anderson’s goal. This time it was Takuma Arano who delivered the sucker punch, initiating a counterattack from his own half in collaboration with both Anderson and Douglas before Arano finished off the maneuver himself with the simplest of tap-ins.

The introduction of soon-to-retire talisman Kengo Nakamura into the fold by Kawasaki in the 70th minute sparked the hosts into life, however Takanori Sugeno made a series of important saves at the end of the game to retain Consadole’s clean sheet. In the end, Nakamura’s introduction was too little too late as Consadole defended well and managed to leave the Todoroki with a 2-0 win – the first team this season who managed to plunder a win at Kawasaki’s own backyard.

Elsewhere, the Osaka Derby at the Nagai ended in a 1-1 stalemate after Yosuke Ideguchi’s 32nd minute opener for Gamba was cancelled out quickly by Cerezo’s Yuta Toyokawa in the 34th minute, forcing the two Osaka sides to share the spoils at the end of the day. Nagoya Grampus played out a goalless stalemate away at Sagan Tosu, while Shimizu S-Pulse started life post-Peter Cklamovski in emphatic fashion with a 3-1 win over star-studded Vissel Kobe at the IAI Stadium Nihondaira.

Both Kashima Antlers and Oita Trinita managed to beat their opponents from Yokohama with two dramatic 3-2 wins, with Kashima edging out Yokohama F. Marinos at the Nissan Stadium thanks to an 84th minute Yasushi Endo winner and Oita relying on a last-minute goal from Tatsuya Tanaka to beat Yokohama FC at the NHK Spring Mitsuzawa Stadium. Last but not least, both Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Urawa Red Diamonds played out a 1-1 draw at the Hiroshima Big Arch.

There was one more Matchweek 26 game scheduled to be played on Tuesday between Vegalta Sendai and Kashiwa Reysol at the former’s Yurtec Stadium, however Kashiwa found themselves becoming the latest J.League club to be afflicted with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A player, a team staff member, and head coach Nelsinho Baptista were tested positive for COVID-19 in the buildup towards the Vegalta match, forcing it to be called off and prompting Kashiwa to test all of their other players and staff members for the virus. Currently recuperating at home, Nelsinho will miss the 2020 J.League Cup final between his Kashiwa side and FC Tokyo at the National Stadium in Tokyo this November 7th.