KASHIWA, CHIBA PREF. – Kashiwa Reysol survived an early scare to beat bottom side Avispa Fukuoka 3-2 on Saturday and move level on points with Gamba Osaka at the top of the J. League.
Avispa, with just three wins to their name all season, stunned the Hitachi Stadium crowd by taking a seventh-minute lead through Hideya Okamoto, but a goal from Leandro Domingues just over 10 minutes later and another through Masato Kudo shortly before halftime put Kashiwa in the driving seat.
Ryohei Hayashi added a third midway through the second half, and although a quick reply from Hisashi Jogo ensured a nervy finish, a shock 1-0 defeat for league leaders Nagoya Grampus at home to Vegalta Sendai allowed Reysol and Gamba — 6-3 winners over Kawasaki Frontale — to leapfrog the champions in the table. Gamba lead on goal difference.
“We gave away an early goal but we were able to sort things out, press and get into our rhythm,” said Kashiwa manager Nelsinho, whose team lost 6-1 to Jubilo Iwata in its previous outing. “We missed a lot of chances and the fact that we couldn’t put them away bothers me. This was a game that we should have won by a bigger margin.
“In a game like tonight, it’s important to take your chances. The more goals you score, the better it will be for your league position.”
Avispa silenced the home crowd with an opening goal that arrived entirely without warning. Toshiya Sueyoshi sent a ball into the box, and defenders Hiroki Sakai and Tatsuya Masushima failed to cut out the danger as Okamoto nipped in to prod the ball home.
Sakai redeemed himself in the 19th minute, galloping into the Avispa box to cut the ball back for Leandro to calmly pick his spot for the equalizer.
Okamoto almost embarrassed the home defense again after pouncing on another error minutes later, but the striker’s decision to take the ball round goalkeeper Kazushige Kirihata gave Masushima time to get back and clear off the line.
Instead Kashiwa took control, and after carving out a series of chances, Kudo found the target. Leandro took out the entire Avispa defense with one flick of his boot, and Kudo charged through the middle before tucking the ball past Yuji Rokutan.
Hayashi extended Kashiwa’s lead when he finished off another slick move in the 67th minute, and although Jogo gave the visitors hope when he burst through to pull a goal back six minutes later, Avispa manager Tetsuya Asano was left to pick over the bones of yet another defeat.
“We knew that Reysol were a strong team and that we would spend a lot of time defending,” Asano said. “Their players really showed how good they are, and their second goal just before halftime came at a bad time for us.
“We need to start getting some wins on the board, but to get two goals against Kashiwa and keep going until the end is what I want to see.”
Elsewhere in the J. League, Ryuji Bando came off the bench to score a hat trick in Cerezo Osaka’s 3-3 draw with Shimizu S-Pulse, while struggling Ventforet Kofu gave their fight against relegation a boost with a 3-2 win over Urawa Reds.
Kashima Antlers beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-0 to move into fifth place, Omiya Ardija are still searching for their first home win of the season after a 1-1 draw with Montedio Yamagata, Vissel Kobe beat Albirex Niigata 2-1, and Yokohama F. Marinos claimed a 1-0 win over Jubilo Iwata.