KASHIWA, Chiba Pref. — After looking as though their J.League campaign was beginning to go awry after two straight defeats following an astonishing start to the season, Kashiwa Reysol righted the ship somewhat Saturday with a 2-0 home victory over Nagoya Grampus Eight.
Kashiwa Stadium on Saturday.
It was only right in a performance that crackled with pace and power — albeit intermittently — from Minoru Suganuma and Tadanari Lee that the Reysol forward pairing should split the goals, both in the first half. Japan Under-22 player Lee’s effort from close range came first on 26 minutes, Suganuma’s on 41.
Their fifth win of the season, with defeats to Urawa Reds and Ventforet Kofu, put Reysol on 16 points from eight matches and in second place, a dream position for a team many tipped to be heading straight back to where they came from —- J2. The end of the season is a long way off, but Reysol’s young team have shown enough so far this season to suggest they plan on hanging around the upper echelons of the J.League.
The only team above Kashiwa, Gamba Osaka, destroyed Oita Trinita 4-0 to stay at the top of the J.League table, with 19 points from eight matches. That’s 19 goals already for Akira Nishino’s men this season with nine coming in the last two matches after the 5-2 drubbing of Jubilo Iwata last week. The luxury of being able to interchange free-scoring strikers Bare, Magno Alves and Ryuji Bando has become all to clear. Magno Alves helped himself to two goals in the win, Bando and Satoshi Yamaguchi one apiece.
Meanwhile, Yokohama F. Marinos thrashed Albirex Niigata 6-0, Jubilo Iwata beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4-2, Vissel Kobe were held at home 0-0 by FC Tokyo and Omiya Ardija lost at home 2-1 to Ventforet Kofu.
Urawa travels to Kashima Antlers on Sunday and Kawasaki Frontale hosts JEF United Chiba.
At Kashiwa Hitachi Stadium, there was an agonizing lack of invention from both teams in the opening half hour, the players’ bodies and minds perhaps sabotaged by the 50-minute delay to kickoff while everyone waited for an electrical storm to pass by.
It was touch-and-go for a while whether the match would go ahead or not, and the stands cleared out as the fans avoided getting soaked by the relentless rain or, much worse, getting struck by lightning coming from the apocalyptic sky.
Scary stuff, indeed.
To the passionate Reysol fans’ credit, they returned to the stands in droves when the match commissioner gave the game the thumbs up, and the yellow-clad diehards deserved better than the turgid fare served up in the first part of the half.
Not that the fans were complaining, what with two goals amid the general ineptitude to keep them warm at halftime. Lee’s opener was the scrappiest of affairs. Tomonori Hirayama lofted in a floated corner that Nagoya ‘keeper Ryo Kushino should have caught with ease, but as a gaggle of players went up for the ball Kushino fumbled the ball, bouncing it off Grampus Eight defender Takahiro Masukawa, before Lee reacted well to roll the ball in from near the goal line.
“It was my first goal in J1 and I am very happy there were a lot of fans out to see me get it,” said Lee.
Kashiwa was in the ascendancy and enjoyed a long period of pressure after the goal, but without creating a clear chance —- until Suganuma’s strike, that is. In between the Kashiwa goals was Nagoya’s only real chance of the first half, when striker Frode Johnsen climbed well and directed a header just over the bar.
Suganuma’s goal was a lesson in clinical finishing. The inform forward, in ripe form early this season, tore on to a clever through ball from Lee and needed hardly any time at all to shape up and thrash in a cross from the edge of the area across Kushino for his fifth league goal of an impressive campaign for player and club.
“It was a great team performance and I am glad my goal helped my team get the win,” said Suganuma. “Everyone worked hard and we are really pleased to get the win.”
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