RIFU, Miyagi Pref. – Brazilian striker Fernandinho scored twice as promoted Vegalta Sendai beat Kashima Antlers 2-1 to consign the champions to their first defeat of the season in the J. League on Sunday.
Fernandinho opened the scoring after less than a minute, driving home a loose ball after Ryang Yong Gi’s shot had come back off the cross bar, and Kashima suffered a further blow when star striker Marquinhos was shown a straight red card for elbowing Naoki Sugai with just quarter of an hour gone at Miyagi Stadium.
Sendai capitalized on its numerical advantage as Ryang set up Fernandinho to complete his brace on the hour mark, and although Shinzo Koroki pulled one back 13 minutes from time, Sendai held on to take the points.
“Whenever a team loses, journalists start looking for reasons. We don’t lose very often so I am sure people will make judgments but there are no major problems. It is simply just one defeat,” said Kashima manager Oswaldo Oliveira.
“I have actually been keeping tabs on Sendai since last year. They are very organized, compact and aggressive. They know their shortcomings and how to make the most of their strong points and I expect them to do very well this season.”
The result moved Sendai level on 10 points with Kashima, Urawa Reds and Kawasaki Frontale, who beat FC Tokyo 2-1 courtesy of a brace from Chong Tese.
Shimizu S-Pulse top the table with 11 points after Shinji Okazaki’s double gave them a 2-1 win at Yokohama F. Marinos on Saturday.
In Sunday’s other game, Park Joo Ho scored twice in a thrilling climax as Jubilo Iwata beat Gamba Osaka 4-3 at Yamaha Stadium.