KAWASAKI — Kawasaki Frontale jolted their season into gear and halted Nagoya Grampus’ unbeaten start on Saturday with a 3-1 win at Todoroki Stadium.
Frontale went into the match having taken only two points from their opening three games — despite being tipped as a title contender — and went behind when Magnum headed in Yoshizumi Ogawa’s cross midway through the first half.
But Vitor Junior gave the home side parity within the space of a minute after good work by Yusuke Mori, before Hiroyuki Taniguchi headed Frontale into the lead five minutes later.
North Korean international Chong Tese wrapped up the win after a mistake in the Grampus midfield just after the hour mark, bringing Grampus down to earth after starting the season with two wins and a draw.
Nagoya manager Dragan Stojkovic admitted his team deserved nothing more.
“We didn’t play with quality,” he said. “It was good that we scored to open the game, but the worst thing was that we gave away a goal in the same minute. It was not our day today.”
With little to separate the teams in the early stages, Kawasaki’s frustration was understandable when Yusuke Tasaka overhit a cross with Juninho and Chong perfectly placed to take advantage.
It took only five minutes for the mistake to come back to haunt the home team, when Ogawa sliced through the Frontale defense before delivering a pinpoint cross for Magnum to score with a diving header.
Within seconds, Mori raided down the right to send in a ball that Vitor Junior lunged at for the equalizer. Shuhei Terada then nodded a deep corner back into the box, and Taniguchi planted his header into the back of the net.
Frontale’s first goal enraged Stojkovic, and a goal-bound shot from Takahiro Masukawa that appeared to strike a Kawasaki hand did little to calm his mood.
“For the first goal they had a player in front of (goalkeeper Seigo) Narazaki,” he said. “It was a classical offside, so I think the judgment was not so good for us.
“Then when Masukawa shot, it was stopped by a hand, and from my point of view it was a penalty. This changed the game, and it is not an excuse. It was crucial.”
Davi bustled around in attack as the visitors attempted to get back on level terms, but as the Brazilian’s exasperated protests grew louder and more animated, Frontale began to settle and create chances of their own.
Narazaki denied Chong and Juninho as the home side tried to land the knockout punch, but the goalkeeper could do nothing when Keiji Yoshimura gave the ball away to allow Chong the space to break forward for Frontale’s third.
“We lost the ball in the middle, so it was easy for them,” Stojkovic said. “When you lose the ball it is like a gift.”
Elsewhere in the J. League, a last-minute strike from Kisho Yano kept Albirex Niigata on top of the table with a 2-1 win over Yokohama F. Marinos, while Kashima Antlers also left it late to beat Kyoto Sanga 2-1 with two goals in the final six minutes.
Urawa Reds beat Oita Trinita 1-0 after an own-goal shortly before halftime, while Sanfrecce Hiroshima held Gamba Osaka to a 2-2 draw.
In the day’s late games, Kashiwa Reysol salvaged a fourth-successive draw 2-2 at home to Omiya Ardija, while Shingo Akamine gave FC Tokyo a 1-0 win over Jubilo Iwata.