KYOTO – Marcus Tulio Tanaka sent national team coach Takeshi Okada a timely reminder of his importance to Japan’s World Cup plans by hitting his first goal of the season in Nagoya Grampus’ 2-0 win away to Kyoto Sanga on Saturday.
Sorely missed in Japan’s 3-0 midweek defeat to Serbia due to suspension, Tulio put Grampus in front with a trademark header early on at Nishikyogoku Stadium and Josh Kennedy added a superb second to complete Nagoya’s third 2-0 league win in a row.
“It’s nice that we have got a rhythm going and long may it continue,” Tulio said. “I couldn’t play for Japan in the last game (on Wednesday) so I can only show what I can do for my team. Hopefully I can keep making the fans happy.”
Urawa Reds temporarily went top of the table after Yuki Abe scored both goals in a 2-0 win at Albirex Niigata, while there were also victories on the road for Gamba Osaka and Kawasaki Frontale.
Urawa and Kawasaki have 13 points from six games while Grampus have 12 from five. Shimizu S-Pulse, who play promoted Vegalta Sendai on Sunday, and Kashima Antlers, who were held 1-1 at FC Tokyo in Saturday’s late match, have 11 points.
Free-scoring Shoki Hirai hit a double as Gamba came from behind to beat Omiya Ardija 3-1 and finally register their first league win of the season, while goals from Renatinho, Masaru Kurotsu and Vitor Junior lifted Frontale to a 3-0 win at Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
Kashima’s Shinzo Koroki canceled out Tokyo striker Sota Hirayama’s fourth-minute penalty at Ajinomoto Stadium.
In Kyoto, Tulio made the only meaningful contribution of a dull first period when he arrived unmarked at the back post to bury Magnum’s corner on eight minutes.
Kyoto shaded the remainder of the half and Shun Morishita hit the side netting following a flowing move on 24 minutes before former Japan striker Atsushi Yanagisawa fired straight at Seigo Narazaki from the edge of the box.
Kyoto continued to threaten at the start of the second period but Nagoya doubled its lead thanks to a clinical strike from Kennedy on 55 minutes.
The lanky Australian striker headed Narazaki’s goal kick to Magnum and collected the return pass to beat Yuichi Mizutani with a thumping effort for his third goal of the campaign.