Kashima Antlers kept their hopes of finishing 2nd in the 2020 J.League 1 table alive after thoroughly dismantling Urawa Red Diamonds 4-0 in their Matchweek 30 encounter at the Kashima Soccer Stadium on Sunday. Ayase Ueda bagged a brace as Antonio Carlos Zago’s men moved up to 4th in the table, four points off current 2nd placers Gamba Osaka.
Matchweek 30 were played out over the weekend of November 28th and 29th, with Saturday’s action seeing Nagoya Grampus, another contender for this season’s silver medal, being forced to a 0-0 draw by Oita Trinita at the Paloma Mizuho Stadium and both Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo playing out a 2-2 stalemate at the Hiroshima Big Arch. Sunday saw a good bulk of Matchweek 30 being played out, with Urawa making the short trip from Saitama Prefecture to Ibaraki Prefecture to take on fellow Greater Tokyo Area team Kashima.
Ueda kickstarted the party for Kashima in the 11th minute, smashing in a cross from Brazilian teammate Everaldo with his head, with the ball managing to beat Urawa goalie Shusaku Nishikawa despite the veteran managing to guess its incoming direction. Clearly stung by Kashima’s opener, Urawa pushed forward to chase for an equalizer, but both Kashima goalkeeper Yuya Oki and the goalposts were on hand to deny the away side’s chances. The first half ended 1-0 in Kashima’s advantage.
Five minutes into the second stanza, Ueda doubled Kashima’s lead with a powerful shot from just outside the area. Ueda received the ball from another Brazilian teammate of his, Juan Alano, before he proceeded to dribble the ball for a few moment. With a number of Urawa defenders surrounding him, Ueda took a gamble and fired a cannonball from outside the Urawa penalty box, with the ball grazing a diving Nishikawa’s gloves before striking the right goalpost and into Urawa’s goal.
Everaldo then made it 3-0 Kashima in the 64th minute, with the Brazilian striker being given too much space inside Urawa’s defense. Alano played a long through ball into the vacated Urawa territory, allowing Everaldo to receive the ball, beat the offside trap, and poke the ball above Nishikawa to triple his team’s advantage.
Urawa’s Ryotaro Ito forced a magnificent save from Oki in the 67th minute after the former’s free-kick was deflected behind by the goalie’s left palm, before Leo Silva finished an already dying Urawa off in the 81st minute. Shoma Doi was the architect behind Kashima’s fourth and final goal of the game, passing the ball short inside the Urawa area towards Leo who slammed home the killing blow.
Sunday’s other Matchweek 30 action saw Gamba almost loosing their grip on 2nd place after conceding a first half goal at home to Sagan Tosu, however a 77th minute strike from Patric managed to salvage a point as the two teams played out a 1-1 draw. Cerezo Osaka kept their own hunt for 2nd place alive with a 1-0 home win over Yokohama FC, while last but not least both Shimizu S-Pulse and Shonan Bellmare shared the spoils at the IAI Stadium Nihondaira with a 1-1 draw.