KAWASAKI – Kawasaki Frontale closed the gap ahead of their midsummer showdown with J. League first division leader Nagoya Grampus by defeating Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-0 at home Sunday night.
Yusuke Tasaka struck for the first time this season in the 54th minute before Vitor Junior wrapped up the three points 12 minutes later with a close-range header, courtesy of a well-spotted cross by captain Kengo Nakamura.
“It’s not easy on the body playing in this heat, but it’s nice to have this result,” said the 25-year-old Tasaka, who has all of four goals for his career.
“We have plenty of games left, so we can’t let up just yet.”
By stretching their unbeaten run to five matches, Frontale moved up to fourth place with 32 points from 18 games — six points behind Grampus who they host on Wednesday evening in what should be a highly charged atmosphere at Todoroki Stadium.
Kawasaki beat Nagoya twice last season. Grampus beat Urawa Reds 3-1 on Saturday to take the top spot for the first time this season.
Hiroshima lost for the second game in a row, dropping to ninth in the table to trail Nagoya by 12 points.
“Kawasaki just outran us in the second half,” Hiroshima coach Mihailo Petrovic said. “They did what was necessary to win. We didn’t have much of a chance today.”
In other J1 games, Kyoto Sanga took another step toward the second division as Yutaka Akita’s side were consigned to their sixth consecutive defeat, a 1-0 home loss at the hands of Kansai rival Cerezo Osaka.
At NACK5 Stadium in Omiya, Ardija failed to mark the debut of former South Korean international Lee Chun Soo with victory, drawing 0-0 with Jubilo Iwata.