KASHIMA, Ibaraki Pref. – An exquisite strike from in-form forward Marquinhos ensured Kashima Antlers made it three wins out of three with a 2-1 defeat of visiting Nagoya Grampus Eight in the J. League on Sunday.
Marquinhos laid on the opener for Chikashi Masuda in the 66th minute at a rain-soaked Kashima Stadium before the Brazilian journeyman scored the clincher for the second game in a row with a curling effort 19 minutes from time.
Nagoya’s Norwegian striker Frode Johnsen responded with his seventh of the campaign and the visitors might have snatched all three points but for some inspired goalkeeping from Kashima custodian Hitoshi Sogahata.
Instead, Nagoya, who had made such a bright start to the season, were left to ponder a third straight defeat which left them in 11th place.
“We had played 16 games until today and maybe in 13 of 14 of those games we were better than our opponents but we have a big problem in the final third,” said Nagoya manager Sef Vergoossen.
“We created enough chances to win today but when you don’t score you are always going to have a problem,” said the Dutchman.
Sogahata was not quick enough off his line to prevent Johnsen from pulling one back for Nagoya but he made amends with two super saves in the last eight minutes from headers from Johnsen and Toshiya Fujita.
Kashima moved into third in the table on 30 points from 17 games, eight behind leaders Gamba Osaka, who remain five clear at the top of the table after destroying FC Tokyo 6-2 on Saturday.
“It was a very difficult game indeed and Nagoya caught us out a bit with their formation but we defended well and were glad to reach halftime with a clean sheet,” said Kashima manager Oswaldo Oliveira.
“We knew how they would play during the second half and made the necessary adjustments and we carried out our game plan well and did what we needed to win,” said the Brazilian.
In Sunday’s other game, Omiya Ardija climbed out of the relegation zone after holding Yokohama F. Marinos to a 0-0 draw at Komaba Stadium.