Frontale edge Grampus on Okubo goal


Nagoya Grampus spurned the chance to go top of the J.League — for 24 hours at least — as Akira Nishino’s men crashed to their first defeat since the opening day of the season with a 1-0 reverse at Kawasaki Frontale on Friday night.

Nagoya had won its last three league outings but Kawasaki, riding high after a 4-0 thrashing of FC Tokyo, dominated for long stretches of the match as 2013 golden boot winner Yoshito Okubo scored the clincher midway through the second half, his club’s 1,000th J.League goal.

Kawasaki moved up to fifth place on seven points from five games, two behind Grampus.

“We got pulled around in the second half and although we defended well it was no real surprise when we conceded,” shrugged Nishino, who admitted Okubo and Kengo Nakamura were a real handful.

“Kawasaki upped the pace and tried to run us down after the break. It’s not like we could afford to have two men marking both of them (Okubo and Nakamura).”

Grampus made most of the early running at Todoroki Stadium, Josh Kennedy testing Yohei Nishibe with a 10th-minute header and former Japan striker Keiji Tamada’s surging runs keeping Frontale’s back line busy.

It was Frontale, though, that had the first clear opportunity on 29 minutes, but Yu Kobayashi scuffed wide when he went clean through on goal, and Renato then had a shot charged down by Yusuke Tanaka from a promising position.

Tanaka again came to Nagoya’s rescue just before halftime, clearing a cross-cum-shot from Kobayashi, who then hit the bar two minutes into the second half as Kawasaki kept up the pressure.

Two solid stops from four-time World Cup goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki kept out Renato and Ryota Oshima, but Nagoya’s resistance was finally broken when Okubo finished off a flowing move, slamming home Nakamura’s cross in the 68th minute.

“We were aware of our next goal being the 1,000th but I wasn’t thinking about it during the match,” said Okubo, whose side hosts Shinji Ono and Western Sydney Wanderers in the Asian Champions League on Tuesday.

“I only realized when we started talking about it after I had scored but it is a nice feeling and I am pleased.”