East Asia Japan

Kashima Saw Off Nagoya in League’s 30th Anniversary Match

Sunday’s J.League 1 action saw Kashima Antlers host Nagoya Grampus at Tokyo’s National Stadium – in a milestone occasion commemorating the 30th anniversary of the league with a repeat of the first-ever J.League match. 

All the way back in 1993, both Kashima and Nagoya – with their World Cup stars Zico and Gary Lineker – kicked-off the inaugural season of the J.League with a resounding 5-0 win for the former, and while Sunday’s showdown lacked any notable names, the action remains as superb as ever 30 years on.

With the two sides well-placed in the top half of the table at this stage of the season, it was Kashima who thought that they had drawn first blood in the 12th minute, only for Yuma Suzuki’s header to be chalked off by VAR as the Kashima player was adjudge to have fouled Nagoya captain Sho Inagaki in the goal’s buildup.

With this controversial reprieve, Nagoya ought’ve done better to keep their eyes on Suzuki, who was a constant threat towards them, however they left Suzuki far too much space in the 29th minute, who finally gave Kashima the lead with a deflected header.

The goal sprung Nagoya into action and they came close to equalizing twice through Kaspar Junker and Takuji Yonemoto, before Hayato Nakama squandered a chance for Kashima to double their lead before the break after his volley went over the goal.

Substitute Noriyoshi Sakai and Haruya Fujii came close for Nagoya in the second half, before Kashima sealed all three points in the 84th minute after Kei Chinen managed to take advantage of a lapse in the Nagoya defense to beat goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak with a well-taken finish.

The win was Kashima’s fifth consecutive without conceding a goal, which helped them sit fifth in the league table. Nagoya, on the other hand, are third, six points behind league leaders Vissel Kobe.