SAITAMA – Unfashionable Omiya Ardija underlined their title credentials with a 2-1 win over J-League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Monday, but the victory was marred by a horrific collision between substitute Takamitsu Tomiyama and Hiroshima goalkeeper Takuya Masuda that landed both in hospital.
Tomiyama stole in to get a touch on Hiroki Mizumoto’s backward header and score what proved to be the clincher on 84 minutes, but in doing so collided with Masuda, who lay motionless for several minutes before an ambulance arrived on the pitch at NACK5 Stadium to take him to hospital.
Tomiyama was stretchered off and also taken to hospital by ambulance. He suffered a concussion and bruising to his face. Masuda was diagnosed with a concussion and will undergo further tests, according to Sanfrecce.
“After the accident it was difficult for both sets of players to continue playing,” said Hiroshima coach Hajime Moriyasu. “We had hoped to get at least a point today, so the result is disappointing.”
Omiya coach Zdenko Verdenik said he hoped for a quick recovery for both Masuda and Tomiyama.
“It is a real shame that two players from this match have ended up in hospital. Sometimes this happens in soccer when two teams are going at it. It can’t be avoided.”
“I don’t know how badly injured their goalkeeper is but I hope he is back on the pitch soon, and the same goes for Tomiyama.”
Both sets of fans chanted Masuda’s name as the ambulance left and the game resumed after a 22-minute delay.
The victory — the seventh in a row for Omiya who are now unbeaten over a record 21 games — sent the Squirrels six points clear at the top after Yokohama F Marinos went down 2-1 at Kashiwa Reysol, Masato Kudo grabbing the winner on the hour mark.
Hiroshima enjoyed the better of the early exchanges but the visitors’ pretty approach repeatedly came to nothing in the final third, and it was Omiya who went closest to opening the scoring on 24 minutes.
Masuda, deputizing for injured Japan reserve keeper Shusaku Nishikawa, had looked jittery on his J-League debut, but the 23-year-old pulled off a magnificent save from point-blank range to keep out a half-volley from in-form Slovenia striker Milivoje Novakovic.
Former Ardija striker Naoki Ishihara saw his shot from a tight angle fizz past the post as Sanfrecce started the second half strongly, but it was Omiya who broke the deadlock when Tomoki Imai sent a perfect cross in for Novakovic to direct his header into the far corner.
Masuda made two more super stops, both from Takuya Aoki, to keep Hiroshima in the game, and the visitors leveled 13 minutes from time when reigning J-League Player of the Year Hisato Sato bundled in a right-wing cross from substitute Sena Inami.
Elsewhere, Takuro Yajima hit the winner as Kawasaki Frontale posted their second victory in a row, coming from behind to beat Shimizu S-Pulse 2-1 at Nihondaira, while Kengo Kawamata’s equalizer gave Albirex Niigata a 1-1 draw at home to Ventforet Kofu.
Interim Jubilo Iwata coach Tetsu Nagasawa saw his side squander a two-goal lead in his first match in charge in a 2-2 draw away to FC Tokyo.
Hotaru Yamaguchi snatched a late equalizer to earn Cerezo Osaka a 2-2 draw at home to Urawa Reds, Davi’s first-half strike saw Kashima Antlers edge Shonan Bellmare 1-0 and Oita Trinita remained the only team in the top flight yet to win after getting thumped 4-2 at home to Sagan Tosu.
At Toyota Stadium, former Japan international striker Atsushi Yanagisawa was on target as Vegalta Sendai won 2-0 at Nagoya Grampus.