Shonan Bellmare managed to inflict Sanfrecce Hiroshima their first J.League 1 defeat of the 2021 season in Saturday’s Matchweek 9 action. A single Satoshi Tanaka goal was enough to silence the Hiroshima Big Arch as Shonan left the stadium with all three points, their second win of the current J1 season.
As one of the three J1 teams yet to taste defeat so far this season, Sanfrecce host a struggling Shonan side who were in the lower reaches of the J1 table by the time Matchweek 9 rolls around. A win for Sanfrecce would not only extend their unbeaten run, but also enable them to go up all the way to 3rd place for the time being before their closest competitors play out their Matchweek 9 matches on Sunday.
However, after a goalless first half, Shonan stunned Sanfrecce by drawing the match’s first blood. Tanaka had excellently intercepted a Keisuke Osako clearance before shrugging off a challenge from a Sanfrecce defender who had tried to pry the ball off him. Tanaka played the ball intelligently to substitute Shuto Machino, which allowed the former to slip his way into the Sanfrecce defense unopposed before providing Machino with the opening he needed to pass the ball back towards him. With a number of men in purple trying their best to stop him, Tanaka fired home a shot from close-range that caught Osako off-guard, earning Shonan the lead in the process.
The likes of Yoichi Naganuma, Akira Ibayashi, Tsukasa Morishima, Junior Santos and Yusuke Chajima bombarded Shonan’s defense after conceding the opening goal in search of an equalizer, however Sanfrecce were wasteful in front of Kosei Tani’s goal, allowing Shonan to leave the Hiroshima Big Arch not only with the 1-0 win, but also a very valuable clean sheet.
Saturday’s other Matchweek 9 match saw Cerezo Osaka and Avispa Fukuoka playing out an exciting 2-2 draw at the Nagai Stadium, with Juanma sealing an 88th minute equalizer for Avispa. The Wasps were playing with 10 men for the most of the match after Takaaki Shichi’s 14th minute dismissal.
Matchweek 9 continues on Sunday with eight matches – Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo welcoming Kashima Antlers to the Sapporo Dome, while Vegalta Sendai made the journey down to Kanagawa Prefecture to play Yokohama F. Marinos at the Nissan Stadium. The Tamagawa Clasico is the headline match for Matchweek 9 as unbeaten league leaders Kawasaki Frontale travel to FC Tokyo, while Sagan Tosu have the perfect opportunity to stop their 2-match losing run as they host bottom-of-the-league Yokohama FC at the Ekimae Real Estate Stadium. Tosu’s fellow Kyushu-based side Oita Trinita host unbeaten Nagoya Grampus at the Showa Denko Dome, while newly promoted Tokushima Vortis visit the Saitama Stadium 2002 to take on Urawa Red Diamonds. Wrapping up Matchweek 9 are matches between a struggling Kashiwa Reysol against Gamba Osaka at the Hitachi Kashiwa Stadium and Vissel Kobe taking on Shimizu S-Pulse at the Misaki Park Stadium.