East Asia Japan

Wasps Recover from Early Setback to Sting Vortis

Newly promoted Avispa Fukuoka managed to etch their first win of the 2021 J.League 1 season after edging out fellow promoted side Tokushima Vortis 2-1 in Saturday’s Matchweek 4 action. Taking on Tokushima at the Pocari Sweat Stadium in Naruto, Avispa found themselves a goal down after just 120 seconds however they showed character in the second half to turn things around and earn themselves all three points.

Avispa made the short trip across the Hoyo Strait to the island of Shikoku to take on Tokushima, with the two newly promoted sides still seeking for their first J1 win of the season. Things went off quite badly for Shigetoshi Hasebe’s Avispa after an excellent through ball from Masaki Watai managed to break the Wasps’ defense apart, allowing Taisei Miyashiro to challenge Avispa goalkeeper Masaaki Murakami. Murakami managed to run out of his post and thwart Miyashiro at the right time, however the loose ball was soon picked up by Yuki Kakita who wasted no time in slotting hime the ball into the empty net before Murakami could regain his composure. 1-0 Tokushima after barely two minutes has been registered on the clock.

The hosts almost doubled their lead in the 15th minute, after Seiya Fujita’s free-kick from outside the area was tipped over the bar by Murakami. Kakita, who was wearing the captain’s armband for the day, almost headed the ball into Murakami’s goal however he found himself seeing his header going over the crossbar for a goal-kick.

In the 37th minute it was Avispa’s turn to craft a chance of their own. A cross from Takaaki Shichi was cleared away by a Tokushima defender, however the ball went into the possession of Avispa midfielder Caue who played it towards Swedish right-back Emil Salomonsson. The former Sanfrecce Hiroshima player laid a through pass towards Takeshi Kanamori who smacked the crossbar with his attempt, before the rebound was cleared away by another Tokushima defender. Shichi tried his luck shortly afterwards however his attempt was blocked by a Tokushima player.

It was not until the 53rd minute that the Wasps of Fukuoka got their equalizer. With Avispa players wrestling the ball off Tokushima’s possession in the midfield, Daisuke Ishizu played an excellent through ball towards Salomonsson, who managed to slip the ball past Tokushima goalkeeper Naoto Kamifukumoto’s legs and into the goal, thus restoring parity at the Pocari Sweat Stadium.

With the scoreline back on level terms, Avispa pushed forward for a winner and they got themselves a premium chance to complete the comeback in the 68th minute. Tokushima defender Diego was judged to have handled the ball with his arm whilst attempting to clear the ball away inside his team’s penalty area, prompting the referee to point to the spot.

Calm, collected, and cool as ice, Kanamori easily dispatched the penalty into Kamifukumoto’s goal, ensuring that Avispa would have a single-goal advantage over their opponents.

Tokushima almost equalized proceedings late into the game after Watai managed to take advantage of a skirmish in front of Murakami’s goal to fire home from close range, however the goal was chalked off after a review with the video assistant referee (VAR) as a Tokushima player was offside when Watai smacked the ball into Avispa’s goal.

Despite that late scare, Avispa managed to clung onto their slender advantage all the way into full-time, ensuring that the Wasps would be returning to Fukuoka with all three points. The 2-1 win was Avispa’s first J1 win since September 17th 2016, when they won 2-0 away at Shonan Bellmare in their last top-flight campaign.

Other results around the grounds on Saturday saw defending J1 champions Kawasaki Frontale making it 5 wins out of 5, however they had to work hard to beat a stubborn Kashiwa Reysol side 1-0 at the Todoroki Athletics Stadium with Akihiro Ienaga scoring the only goal of the game 10 minutes before the final whistle. 1-0 was also the result at the Misaki Park Stadium after a 19th minute goal from Sho Inagaki ensured victory for Nagoya Grampus over hosts Vissel Kobe.

Vegalta Sendai’s awful start to the season continues as they went down 3-1 away at Shonan, while Kashima Antlers and Sanfrecce Hiroshima shared the spoils at the Kashima Soccer Stadium with a 1-1 draw. Last but not least, Cerezo Osaka managed to win big at the NHK Spring Mitsuzawa Stadium as they crushed Yokohama FC 4-1.

While they were set to play on Saturday, Gamba Osaka’s COVID-19 situation meant that Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo could afford to sit out the matchweek.

Matchweek 4 continues on Sunday with Yokohama F. Marinos hosting Urawa Red Diamonds at the Nissan Stadium, Shimizu S-Pulse welcoming Sagan Tosu to the IAI Stadium Nihondaira, and Oita Trinita welcoming FC Tokyo to the Showa Denko Dome.