YOKOHAMA – Shinji Okazaki struck twice, Shunsuke Nakamura limped off midway through the first half and Shimizu S-Pulse held off a frantic late onslaught to beat Yokohama F. Marinos 2-1 on Saturday.
Marinos were looking to end S-Pulse’s unbeaten start to the season at Nissan Stadium, but a missed second-half penalty and injuries to Nakamura and Yuzo Kurihara — called up to the national team this week three-and-a-half years after winning his one and only cap — left them counting the cost of a miserable afternoon instead.
Nakamura and Kurihara were both scheduled to undergo further checks on Sunday to assess the extent of their injuries, but Yokohama manager Kazushi Kimura did not appear confident of their participation in Japan’s friendly against Serbia in Osaka on Wednesday.
“Shunsuke got kicked where he had been hurt before, and Yuzo couldn’t put any power into his leg,” Kimura said. “I really feel for Yuzo. He was about to get his chance with the national team, so it’s a real shame.”
Okazaki scored two poacher’s goals to put S-Pulse in control by halftime, but an 82nd-minute reply from Norihisa Shimizu set up a nervy finish for Kenta Hasegawa’s side.
“Marinos are a very tough team, and one that I think will become even better,” Hasegawa said. “After Shunsuke went off they were much more aggressive and ran much harder. We had a few dangerous moments but we defended well and held firm, and the players ran and fought for the full 90 minutes.”
Marinos started off on the wrong foot when Shinji Tsujio whipped in a fifth-minute cross that was cleared only as far as Okazaki, and the national team striker needed no second invitation to ram home the rebound.
Things looked even worse for the home team when Nakamura left the field on a stretcher in the 20th minute after tangling with Akihiro Hyodo, returning only to leave the fray six minutes later when it became clear he could barely run.
A last-gasp header by Hyodo stopped Kurihara from bringing Marinos level shortly before halftime, but instead it was S-Pulse who found the net before the interval. Shinji Ono sent in a deep free kick that Iikura made a mess of with the afternoon sun in his eyes, and Okazaki was again on hand to fire home the rebound.
Yokohama’s last chance of a lifeline looked to have slipped away when Yohei Nishibe saved Shingo Hyodo’s 69th-minute spot kick after Yuji Nakazawa had gone down in the box, but the temperature rose a notch when Shimizu glanced home Kenta Kano’s free kick to make it 2-1.
Kano, Hyodo and Koji Yamase all went close as Marinos laid siege to S-Pulse’s goal, but the visitors kept their cool to escape with the win.
“It’s normal to come under that kind of pressure away from home against a team like Yokohama,” said Shimizu defender Eddy Bosnar, who played his part by clearing a Kano shot off the line in injury time. “I don’t think we played that well, but the most important thing is to come to a place like this and win. We’re on a good path.”
Elsewhere in the J. League, two goals from Shinji Kagawa helped Cerezo Osaka beat Kyoto Sanga 3-1 to claim their first win of the season, while Igor Burzanovic also scored a brace in Nagoya Grampus’ 2-0 victory over Vissel Kobe.
Yuzo Tashiro was on target as Montedio Yamagata beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0, Albirex Niigata and Omiya drew 0-0, while in the day’s late game Urawa Reds defeated Shonan Bellmare 2-1.