Soccer / J. League

Frontale hold off Jubilo

by Andrew McKirdy

Staff Writer

Kawasaki Frontale overcame a nervy finish to beat Jubilo Iwata 4-3 and give manager Yahiro Kazama his first win in charge on Thursday.

Kazama was handed the reins at the Kanagawa club late last month after predecessor Naoki Soma was fired after only five games of the season, but the former TV analyst endured a torrid debut in a 4-1 defeat to Sanfrecce Hiroshima last weekend.

Teenage midfielder Ryota Oshima gave his new boss hope of a happier afternoon at Todoroki Stadium, however, notching his first career goal in the 30th minute before two quick-fire strikes from Takuro Yajima and Yusuke Tanaka shortly after halftime put Frontale firmly in the driving seat.

Kosuke Yamamoto pulled one back for Jubilo before Yajima grabbed his second of the game, but although Yamamoto scored again to reduce the deficit to two, a critical late Yohei Nishibe penalty save to deny Ryoichi Maeda dented the visitors’ hopes of a comeback before substitute Yoshiro Abe snatched an injury-time consolation.

“I’m a little tired,” Kazama said after seeing his side move to 13 points from nine games. “I have a lot of expectations of the players, but they also have expectations of their own. So even when we opened up a big lead we still went looking for more goals. That has taken it out of me.

“We’re a team that likes to keep the ball and play football, and we were able to do that to some degree in the second half. But there were also some individual mistakes and we made too many misplaced passes, so we will work on that in training and try to improve in the next game.”

Frontale conceded a goal shortly before halftime in last week’s game against Sanfrecce, but after taking the lead against Jubilo, midfielder Junichi Inamoto was determined to avoid a repeat.

“We had some difficult times in the first half, and we were conscious of what happened against Sanfrecce so everyone dug in and rode it out,” said the former Fulham player. “Conceding three goals gives us something to think about, but we won and hopefully now we can go on from here.”

Jubilo dominated the early exchanges, but Oshima broke the deadlock with a neat passing move that cut the visitors open. Yajima drilled a low cross into the box from the left wing, and 19-year-old was in perfect position to turn it home.

Things got even better for the home side after the break, with Yamamoto blocking off Jumpei Kusukami in the area and Yajima stepping up to calmly dispatch the penalty. Tanaka then took advantage of a defensive mixup between Jo Kanazawa and Yoshiaki Fujita to stride through unchallenged and slot home Frontale’s third.

Yamamoto pulled one back less than five minutes later, seizing on a fluffed Shun Morishita clearance to rifle the ball past Nishibe.

But the home side soon restored its advantage, Kengo Nakamura picking out Yajima with a superb pass from inside his own half that the striker gratefully accepted with his first touch.

Yamamoto headed home a cross from Hiroki Yamada for his second of the game, and an 80th-minute penalty for a Yusuke Igawa handball gave Jubilo another glimmer of hope. Nishibe dived to his left to deny Maeda from the spot, however, and although Abe scored in injury time, the visitors went home empty-handed.

“Today the players managed to put into practice what we have been trying to do for the longest period of any of our away games so far,” said Jubilo manager Hitoshi Morishita. “We know that we just have to keep doing what we have been doing. We’re not thinking negatively at all.”

Elsewhere in the J. League, Consadole Sapporo finally picked up their first win of the season — the last team in the division to do so — 1-0 over Cerezo Osaka, while Vissel Kobe responded to manager Masahiro Wada’s dismissal earlier this week with a 3-0 rout of Omiya Ardija.

League leaders Vegalta Sendai maintained their unbeaten record but were held 1-1 by Sagan Tosu, Albirex Niigata beat second-place Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0, Shimizu S-Pulse crushed Kashima Antlers 3-0, and an 88th-minute goal from Marquinhos gave Yokohama F. Marinos a 2-1 win over Urawa Reds.