Honda’s strike leads S-Pulse past Kashima

SHIZUOKA (AP) Struggling Shimizu S-Pulse survived a late onslaught to stun fading Kashima Antlers 1-0 in the J. League on Sunday.

Chikashi Masuda and Danilo both went close as Kashima turned up the heat in the late stages at Nihondaira Stadium, but Shimizu hung on to move out of the drop zone thanks to the first league goal of Takuya Honda’s career.

Victory lifted Shimizu up to 13th in the 18-team standings while Kashima’s miserable run of league form leaves the defending champions eight points adrift of leaders Urawa Reds with a game in hand.

In Sunday’s other game, Roni struck twice to earn Yokohama F. Marinos a 2-2 draw away to Gamba Osaka.

Kashima should have taken the lead after five minutes in Shizuoka after Yuzo Tashiro scampered clean through, but the striker’s tame finish was comfortably dealt with by S-Pulse keeper Yohei Nishibe.

Fernandinho missed an equally inviting opportunity at the other end, the Brazilian losing control before firing over from close range, but Honda made no mistake when he broke the deadlock on 25 minutes.

Shinji Okazaki struggled to bring down Jungo Fujimoto’s left-wing cross but the ball fell kindly for Honda, who gave Hitoshi Sogahata no chance with a bullet into the top corner.

Tashiro saw another chance go begging when he headed over the bar and substitute Masuda brought a superb save out of Nishibe with five minutes left before Danilo shot wastefully into the sidenetting.

“The team that made the most of their chances came out on top,” shrugged Kashima manager Oswaldo Oliveria, who has not tasted victory in the league since Kashima’s 4-1 demolition of JEF United Chiba on April 5.

“Finally we will have a week or so to prepare for our next game and that will give us time to fix things that need fixing. We want to win our next game.”

Shimizu boss Kenta Hasegawa said, “I think my players did ever so well in the way they stayed completely focused and battled to the death.”

“Hopefully this will put us in good stead for our next game (against Tokyo Verdy). Verdy are playing well of late and all the players will need to be battling for each other.”

Shimizu’s win came on a day when their 33-year-old midfielder Teruyoshi Ito made a record 415th J. League appearance.

“I have been playing a long time so this has come naturally,” said Ito. “I have been lucky with injuries and have been blessed with the right staff around me and I’d like to continue playing.”