KASHIWA, Chiba Pref. – Modest JEF United Ichihara beat 10-man Kashiwa Reysol 2-0 away in a highly charged Chiba derby to turn the first-stage title race on its head and Kashima Antlers swept aside Jubilo Iwata 5-2 as J. League first division action resumed on Saturday after a five-week break.
Japan Under-22 midfielder Yuki Abe set up Yuto Sato for the opener on 22 minutes and grabbed a superb second shortly before Kashiwa was reduced to 10 men as Ichihara leapfrogged Jubilo, which saw goalkeeper Arno Van Zwam sent off after just 12 minutes, to go to the top with four games of the stage remaining.
Victory moved Ichihara a step closer to its first-ever league title with 23 points from 11 games, one clear of Kashima while Jubilo dropped to third on 21.
At Kashiwa Stadium, Ichihara played the more enterprising soccer in an ill-tempered first half and took the lead when Sato stole in to lash home an Abe free-kick from the left.
Brazilian striker Marcio forced Ichihara ‘keeper Ryo Kushino into a smart save at his far post in the 53rd minute but Kashiwa rarely looked like forcing an equalizer and Abe kept the visitors’ unbeaten away record in tact when he finished a weaving run with a fierce shot in off the post a minute later.
Kashiwa’s misery was completed when midfielder Tatsuya Yazawa was sent off for his second bookable offense less than a quarter of an hour after coming on as a second-half substitute.
In Ibaraki Prefecture, Fernando gave Kashima the lead before Van Zwam was given his marching orders, and the Dutchman’s replacement Toshiyasu Takahara had to pick the ball out of the net twice in four minutes after coming on, as Fernando grabbed his second and Go Oiwa scored against his former team.
Serie A-bound striker Atsushi Yanagisawa gave home fans a farewell present in his final game before joining Italian club Sampdoria with the fourth on the stroke of halftime.
Two goals in the first eight minutes of the second-half from Ryoichi Maeda and Rodrigo Gral reduced the deficit for Iwata, but Brazilian striker Euller completed the demolition with Kashima’s fifth, 18 minutes from time.
Elsewhere, Tatsuhiko Kubo grabbed his sixth goal of the season as Yokohama F. Marinos moved into fourth with a 1-0 win over lowly Shimizu S-Pulse at Tokyo’s National Stadium, while Japan striker Yuichiro Nagai struck the winner as Urawa Reds came from behind to beat Oita Trinita 2-1 at home.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.