KASHIWA, Chiba Pref. – Sanfrecce Hiroshima missed the chance to cut table-topping Kashima Antlers’ lead to six points after being held to a 1-1 draw away to lowly Kashiwa Reysol as J. League first-division action resumed after a seven-week break on Saturday.
Hisato Sato’s superb 43rd-minute opener for Hiroshima was canceled out by Japan striker Keiji Tamada, who ended a drought with his first goal of the season, while Gamba Osaka moved into second after demolishing Tokyo Verdy 7-1.
Brazilian Araujo put Gamba in front on the stroke of halftime with the first of a hat trick at Expo Stadium and in-form Japan striker Masashi Oguro scored the first and last of six goals in 33 minutes in the second period as the home side ran riot.
Gamba moved on to 22 points from 13 games, seven behind Kashima, which could increase its lead at the top to 10 points with a win at home to Shimizu S-Pulse on Sunday.
Kashiwa had not scored in its last four league matches but it went close to ending the barren patch after just 20 seconds in Chiba Prefecture when Cleber saw a header come crashing off the underside of the crossbar.
Tamada fired a free kick just over the bar in the 25th minute but Hiroshima looked the classier side in the opening period and it took the lead shortly before the interval when Sato beat Yuta Minami with a rasping drive from 25 meters.
Kashiwa, which has not won at home in the league since March last year, fought back after the break and Tamada pounced to smash home the equalizer following a corner from Tomonori Hirayama in the 78th-minute.
Tamada should have won it for Kashiwa when he ran clean through in the dying seconds of stoppage time but was thwarted by Hiroshima ‘keeper Takashi Shimoda.
Hiroshima dropped to third while Kashiwa remains deep in trouble in 17th place in the 18-team division with 11 points.
Vissel Kobe drew 1-1 at home to JEF United Chiba and continue to prop up the table with 10 points.
Elsewhere, Yokohama F. Marinos moved into fourth as second-half goals from Hideo Oshima and Daisuke Sakata gave the defending champions a 2-0 win away to Oita Trinita while Kawasaki Frontale pulled off a surprise 2-1 win at Jubilo Iwata.
Christian’s sixth goal of the season earned Omiya Ardija a 1-1 draw away to Nagoya Grampus Eight while Cerezo Osaka snatched a 2-2 draw at FC Tokyo thanks to a late double from Brazilian Ze Carlos.
Urawa Reds take on visiting Albirex Niigata in Sunday’s other fixture.
Salcedo joins FC Tokyo
J. League first-division club FC Tokyo announced the acquisition Saturday of Paraguay striker Santiago Salcedo from Paraguayan side Cerro Porteno.
Salcedo, 23, scored nine goals in eight matches in Cerro Porteno’s campaign this year in the Libertadores Cup, South America’s premier club competition. He will become eligible for registration for J. League matches Aug. 12.
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