Antlers return to form in win over Marinos


YOKOHAMA — Kashima Antlers shook off an indifferent run of form and got back to winning ways with a stylish 3-1 victory over Yokohama F. Marinos on Saturday.

The defending J. League champions had taken only two points from their previous three league games going into the match at Nissan Stadium, but defender Lee Jung Soo set Oswaldo Oliveira’s side off in the right direction with a 21st-minute headed opener.

Kazuma Watanabe pulled one back for Marinos less than 10 minutes later, but an inspired second-half performance by Marquinhos put Kashima back in control as the Brazilian striker set up a 51st-minute goal for Mitsuo Ogasawara before scoring the third himself. It was Marquinhos’ 100th J. League goal, making him only the fifth player to accomplish that feat.

If Antlers think their troubles are now firmly in the past, however, their manager has other ideas.

“We can play better,” Oliveira said after the game. “I’m not 100 percent satisfied. We committed some mistakes that I am trying to repair, but today there were much less than before. Our marking had to be better. Marinos have clever players and if you see that they are going to cross you have to close them down.”

Kashima’s opening goal was simplicity itself, with Ogasawara curling a free kick into the box and Lee rising highest to beat goalkeeper Hiroki Iikura to the ball.

But if the direct approach could work for the visitors, it could also work for the hosts. Yasuhiro Hato set off on a surging run down the right in the 30th minute, before cutting inside and delivering a cross that Watanabe met with his head to bring Marinos level.

Shunsuke Nakamura forced Hitoshi Sogahata into a smart save with a dipping free kick minutes before the interval, but it was a rare moment of class in an otherwise sluggish performance from the former Celtic ace.

Instead it was Marquinhos who took center stage when the second half got under way. The Brazilian twisted and turned in search of a way through the Marinos defense, and his persistence paid off when he eventually managed to send in a cross for Ogasawara to sweep home.

A brilliant last-gasp Yuzo Kurihara tackle denied Marquinhos a goal of his own five minutes later, but he would not be held for long. The striker left Yuji Nakazawa for dead to race through on goal on the hour mark, before rifling the ball past Iikura for Kashima’s third.

“In the last two or three games Marquinhos didn’t perform as well as he did today,” said Oliveira. “But we know him very well. We know he is much better when he has the space to create, and today’s game was like this.”

Elsewhere in the J. League, Jubilo Iwata shocked leaders Urawa Reds with a 1-0 win at Saitama Stadium, Norihiro Nishi scoring the 55th-minute winner to consign the hosts to their second defeat of the season.

Top spot instead went to Shimizu S-Pulse after their 2-1 win over Omiya Ardija, while Kawasaki Frontale joined Reds on 16 points by beating Vissel Kobe 3-0.

In the day’s other games, Montedio Yamagata beat Kyoto Sanga 2-1, Gamba Osaka beat FC Tokyo 2-0, and Albirex Niigata and Sanfrecce Hiroshima played to a 2-2 draw.