TOYOTA, AICHI PREF. – High-flying Kashiwa Reysol held champions Nagoya Grampus 0-0 away to grab a deserved point in the J. League on Saturday.
The result keeps Kashiwa top of the table after seven games and last season’s second division champions will feel unfortunate not to be taking all three points back to Chiba Prefecture after another solid performance.
“It was a difficult game. We kept it tight at the back and were looking to get something on the break, and had we had that little bit of extra quality in the final third we might have got the points,” said Kashiwa manager Nelsinho.
“But we have had a positive start to the season, the stats will tell you that,” said the Brazilian.
Nagoya was looking to bounce back from its shock 3-1 defeat at promoted Ventforet Kofu last Sunday but it was Kashiwa that had the better of the chances in the first period at Toyota Stadium.
Yuki Otsu’s close-range effort forced a good save out of Seigo Narazaki and the former Japan goalkeeper was called upon again to make another key block from in-form striker Hideaki Kitajima eight minutes before the interval.
Marcus Tulio Tanaka, back from injury, and Naoshi Nakamura both tested Kashiwa keeper Takanori Sugeno but the visitors continued to look dangerous going forward and Brazilian midfielder Leandro Domingues had Narazaki scurrying across his line with a header that dipped just wide.
“We tried very hard to win the game and I think a draw is not bad because we played against the current leaders of the J. League,” said Nagoya boss Dragan Stojkovic. “It was a very hard and competitive game and I am satisfied with our fighting spirit.”
In other games, Ryoichi Maeda struck twice as Jubilo Iwata piled more misery on Avispa Fukuoka, hammering the Kyushu side 4-1 to keep them rooted to the foot of the table without a point from seven games.
Former Japan striker Masashi Oguro also hit a brace as Yokohama F. Marinos thumped Ventforet Kofu 4-0 to go second, while goals from Hiroyuki Takasaki and Mazzolla saw Urawa Reds come from behind to draw 2-2 with Kashima Antlers. Mazzolla was sent off in the dying stages.
In Saturday’s evening games, Adriano grabbed a late winner with his second of the game as Gamba Osaka edged Albirex Niigata 2-1 at Expo Stadium. Vissel Kobe beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 at home to move third.