SAITAMA – Omiya Ardija denied local rivals Urawa Reds the chance to move into second in the table after a surprise 2-1 away win in the J. League first division on Saturday.
First-half goals from Brazilian midfielder Toninho and Naoto Sakurai settled the Saitama derby while the result saw last season’s league runnerup Urawa slip 12 points behind leaders Kashima Antlers, who defeated Kawasaki Frontale 2-0 at home.
Kashima bounced back from its midweek defeat at Yokohama F. Marinos thanks to an own goal and a trademark free-kick from Mitsuo Ogasawara in a bad-tempered match that saw nine players booked.
Kashima leads the table on 35 points from 15 games, 10 clear of Gamba Osaka, which hosts struggling Kashiwa Reysol on Sunday.
At a rain-lashed Saitama Stadium 2002, Toninho silenced Urawa’s boo boys by giving promoted Omiya a 19th-minute lead that the visitor fully deserved.
Urawa goalkeeper Ryota Tsuzuki made an important block to deny Tatsunori Hisanaga in the fifth minute and then turned away a shot from Christian before Omiya scored from the resulting corner.
Toninho raced in to head home Tuto’s cross at the near post and local boy Sakurai sent the pocket of drenched Omiya fans away to his right into ecstasy by smashing home the second four minutes later.
Despite thrashing Tokyo Verdy 7-0 away on Wednesday, Urawa failed to create any noteworthy chances in the first half but reduced the arrears in injury time when Marcus Tulio Tanaka flicked an Alessandro Santos free-kick beyond the impressive Hiroki Aratani.
Aratani was the far busier keeper after the interval and helped preserve Omiya’s lead with a string of saves before Tuto spurned a glorious chance to kill the game off from the penalty spot in the 76th minute.
Tsuzuki was booked after hauling down Sakurai but made amends by smothering Tuto’s weak spot kick. Urawa piled on the pressure in the late stages but Omiya stood firm to take the points.
Elsewhere, Jubilo Iwata climbed into third spot on 24 points after a second-half hat-trick from Ryoichi Maeda gave it a 3-0 win over visiting Cerezo Osaka and JEF United Chiba edged Albirex Niigata 3-2 courtesy of a late winner from Yuichi Yoda.
Toshiya Fujita opened his account for new club Nagoya Grampus Eight with a 54th-minute equalizer in a 1-1 draw at home to defending champions Yokohama F. Marinos.
At the other end of the table, Vissel Kobe’s relegation worries increased after a 3-0 defeat at home to Shimizu S-Pulse kept it rooted firmly at the bottom of the table. Shimizu is 10th.
The day’s other local derby, between FC Tokyo and Tokyo Verdy, finished goalless. Verdy is fourth from bottom on 15 points, while FC Tokyo is one position below on 14 points.
Oita Trinita welcomes Sanfrecce Hiroshima in Sunday’s other fixture.
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