Kashiwa Reysol’s season took another downward turn as three late goals from Yojiro Takahagi and Naoki Ishihara saw Sanfrecce Hiroshima condemn the champions to a crushing 5-2 home defeat in the J-League on Sunday.
A Hisato Sato brace put Hiroshima in control but it was Kashiwa that looked the more likely to emerge triumphant after superb strikes from substitute Junya Tanaka and Jorge Wagner pulled Nelsinho’s men back from 2-0 down with 13 minutes left.
But Takahagi’s 85th-minute effort swung the game back in the visitors’ favor before Ishihara’s late double capped a stunning victory.
Sanfrecce stayed in third place on 19 points, four behind leaders Vegalta Sendai, whose unbeaten start to the league season finally ended with a 1-0 defeat at home second-placed Shimizu S-Pulse.
Genki Omae scored the clincher with a 40th-minute header in a match delayed because of a thunder storm, moving Shimizu to within two points of Vegalta.
Kashiwa, on the other hand, could find themselves in the relegation zone at the end of the day if results go against them in later matches.
“I can’t really explain why we are in this situation,” said Nelsinho. “The players are working hard every day and we deserved to win some of the games out of the nine in the league that we have played so far but didn’t.
“But I can’t deny that our finishing has let us down. We have made chances but have not capitalized and think our position reflects that. Of course injuries have played a part.”
Hiroshima made most of the early running and were rewarded after 10 minutes as Ishihara got behind the home defense and crossed for Sato to nod in at the far post.
Kashiwa, starting with the same side that beat Buriram United 1-0 in the Asian Champions League in midweek, rarely tested Shusaku Nishikawa and Leandro Domingues spurned a glorious chance to level at the start of the second half when he sent a free header wide.
That miss cost Reysol dearly as Sato doubled his tally moments later, running onto a through ball from Takahagi to bury his ninth of the season.
Nelsinho reacted by throwing on Tanaka for the Hideaki Kitajima in the 59th minute and the moved paid instant dividends as Tanaka took down a long ball and swiveled to fire beyond Nishikawa and into the top corner.
A volley from Wagner then made it all square but as Kashiwa pressed for a winner, Hiroshima countered to retake the lead through a fine first-time effort from Takahagi and Ishihara poked Takahagi’s cross in at the far post before putting the issue to bed in the third minute of injury time.
“The players each gave 120 percent for the 90 minutes and were united as a team,” said Hiroshima manager Hajime Moriyasu. “You would think that Kashiwa would have scored a third goal after coming back but our players stuck in and scored three and I really feel that our team has grown.”
In other matches, Shunsuke Nakamura was on target as Yokohama F Marinos won 2-1 at home to bottom club Consadole Sapporo, while Takuya Nozawa struck the winner as Vissel Kobe beat local rivals Cerezo Osaka 2-1 away to make it two victories out of two under caretaker Ryo Adachi. Urawa Reds were held 2-2 away to Jubilo Iwata.