KASHIMA – Brazilian striker Alex Mineiro inspired Kashima Antlers to a 2-1 win over Shimizu S-Pulse with a goal in each half as the four-time champions restored their commanding lead at the top of the J. League first division on Sunday.
Mineiro took his tally for the season to six with a clinical finish after two minutes and a close-range effort early in the second half to give Kashima a 10-point lead over nearest rival Gamba Osaka after 13 games played while Urawa Reds moved fourth after a 2-1 win over Albirex Niigata in the day’s other game.
Kashima improved to 32 points with Gamba on 22 and Sanfrecce Hiroshima another point off the pace.
“These two goals were important for the team to get back on track after the break,” Mineiro said, referring to the seven-week break in league action for Japan national team fixtures.
Mineiro gave Kashima a dream start when he stabbed home from an acute angle after Daisuke Ichikawa failed to clear a cross from Masashi Motoyama.
Mineiro completed his brace from a sweeping move in the 57th minute.
Mitsuo Ogasawara ran on to a pass from Takayuki Suzuki and picked out Mineiro with a cross from the left that the Brazilian tucked away with the simplest of finishes.
Shimizu, however, refused to lie down and a gaffe from Hitoshi Sogahata gave the Shizuoka club hope with two minutes remaining.
Sogahata made a hash of a ball across the face of goal from Shunichiro Zaitsu and substitute Keisuke Ota snapped up the loose ball but it proved to be too little too late as Shimizu suffered its first away defeat of the season.
“We have got five more games in two weeks and this is a great start for us,” said Kashima manager Toninho Cerezo.
Shimizu manager Kenta Hasegawa remained upbeat despite the defeat.
“It was difficult for us after conceding an early goal. We were unable to take any points from this game but I am pleased with the account the players gave of themselves, particularly in the second half.”
In Saitama, second-half goals from Nobuhisa Yamada and Tatsuya Tanaka saw Urawa come from behind after Edmilson had put Niigata in front in the 41st minute.
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