East Asia Japan

Iwata Saves Turtles from Defeat as Reysol Are Held

Kashiwa Reysol took on Oita Trinita on Wednesday’s rescheduled J.League 1 match at the Hitachi Kashiwa Stadium, with both teams hoping to redeem themselves after disappointing results over Matchweek 31. Kashiwa were beaten 1-0 at their home backyard by silver medal contenders Nagoya Grampus, while Oita were embarrassed at their Showa Denko Dome 2-0 by bottom-of-the-league Vegalta Sendai – the Turtles’ second defeat in their most recent three games. The men in yellow from Chiba Prefecture almost made it three losses in four for Oita, however Tomoki Iwata was on-hand to score an 84th minute equalizer to salvage a solitary point.

Realizing that Kashiwa’s COVID-19 scare earlier in late October has made his team’s schedule extra-condensed with the season’s finish line in sight, head coach Nelsinho Baptista made the gamble of benching J1 top scorer Michael Olunga, with Hiroto Goya taking his place in the front lines. Ataru Esaka and Kengo Kitazume were also benched by Nelsinho, however both Cristiano and Yusuke Segawa were retained in the starting lineup for Oita’s visit.

After a frustrating first half that saw both teams drawing blanks, Goya gave Kashiwa the lead two minutes into the second half, rising confidently into the air to head in a Cristiano corner into Shun Takagi’s goal. This came after both Takagi and the Oita defense had done well to deny a number of chances carved out by Cristiano, with the lively Brazilian veteran orchestrating most of Kashiwa’s attacking movements throughout the match.

Oita’s Yuya Takazawa was Cristiano’s counterpart in the match for Tomohiro Katanosaka’s men, playing out the same role as the Brazilian as he powered Oita’s engines at the Hitachi, and it was indeed through the 23-year old that Oita managed to find some inspiration to shatter Kashiwa’s hearts. With only six minutes to go until full-time, Takazawa passed the ball back towards the Oita midfield with defender Iwata receiving it. One of the standout performers in Oita’s strong 2019 campaign, Iwata fired an audacious attempt from distance which somehow managed to beat Kashiwa goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu. 1-1 and the scoreline did not change all the way into full-time, despite Nelsinho attempting to throw the kitchen sink at Oita during the dying minutes of the match by introducing Olunga into the fray in a vain attempt to pull out a winner.

The single point meant that Kashiwa moved up to 7th in the J1 table, while Oita remain strongly rooted mid-table in 11th.