A serious accident that left two players in the hospital may have cast a pall over Monday’s match between Omiya Ardija and Sanfrecce Hiroshima, but the reaction of both sets of fans and players was a credit to the Japanese game.

With the clash between league-leaders Omiya and defending champions Sanfrecce tied at 1-1 in the 84th minute, Hiroshima defender Hiroki Mizumoto sent an errant backward header toward his own goal. Omiya substitute Takamitsu Tomiyama reached the ball just in time to head it past Sanfrecce goalkeeper Takuya Masuda, but in doing so the two collided and both lay motionless on the turf for several minutes.

The reactions of the first players on the scene, Omiya’s Milivoje Novakovic and Daigo Watanabe, betrayed the seriousness of the situation. Both players immediately waved for the doctor, and although Tomiyama was eventually carried off on a stretcher, the game was suspended for 22 minutes before an ambulance was able to enter the pitch and take Masuda to the hospital.

Tomiyama was diagnosed with a concussion and bruising to the face, while Masuda also suffered a concussion and spent the night in the hospital before being released the next day following further tests.

The situation was clearly difficult for everyone present, not least the Sanfrecce players who had to refocus and play the remaining six minutes with the welfare of their teammate still unknown.

So for the Omiya fans to show their support by chanting the names of Masuda and Sanfrecce was a welcome gesture indeed. Sanfrecce captain Hisato Sato showed his gratitude by leading his players over to applaud the home stand after the final whistle, and out of an unpleasant situation came proof that the bonds between clubs that strengthened in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake remain as strong as ever.

“It was difficult for us both, but they still gave us their gentlemanly support,” said Sato of the Ardija fans. “It shows mutual respect and I think that is a fantastic thing, so I wanted to show our appreciation.”

Sanfrecce manager Hajime Moriyasu also paid tribute.

“Ardija were our opponents for the day, but also our partners in putting on the game,” he said. “For them to give us that support is something we really appreciate. During the game you fight against the opposing team looking for the win, but to get that consideration and sympathy is something that we are really grateful for.”

After starting the campaign with six straight wins, Yokohama F. Marinos’ momentum appears to have ground to a halt.

Kashiwa Reysol striker Masato Kudo scored a 60th-minute winner to consign Marinos to a 2-1 defeat on Monday, meaning the early-season pace-setters have now taken only four points from their last four games.

“We are beating the teams we beat last year and losing to the teams we lost to last year,” said Marinos midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura, who tasted defeat against Reysol in both the J. League and Emperor’s Cup last season. “There are some things we are not doing well, but we created some chances in front of goal today, and the way our two strikers linked up wasn’t bad.

“We didn’t play badly today — the only time we let it slip was with the two goals they scored.”

The Golden Week holiday period has not been kind to Nagoya Grampus.

The 2010 champions went into last Friday’s game against Kawasaki Frontale seventh in the table, but after losing 2-1 and then going down 2-0 at home to Vegalta Sendai on Monday, the situation now looks significantly less attractive for Dragan Stojkovic’s 11th-place side.

“For the first goal we weren’t in the proper shape and from there they hit us on the counterattack,” said defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka after Monday’s defeat. “I got the feeling that there were a lot of players on our team who didn’t know what to do next.

“We created chances but couldn’t score from them, and then the other team went and scored the opening goal. We just can’t allow that kind of game. We have to go back and start again from scratch.”

Quotable: “If he keeps improving at this rate, pretty soon he’ll be ready for the national team.”

— Cerezo Osaka manager Levir Culpi touts Hotaru Yamaguchi for a callup after the midfielder’s fourth goal of the season in Monday’s 2-2 draw with Urawa Reds.


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