KASHIWA, CHIBA PREF. – Goals in each half from Kosuke Taketomi and Daisuke Suzuki fired Kashiwa Reysol to the top of the J. League second-stage standings with a 2-0 win at home to Matsumoto Yamagata on Thursday night.
A blockbuster from Taketomi opened the scoring late in the first half and Suzuki poached the second with 20 minutes left to give Reysol a boost ahead of their Asian Champions League quarterfinal first-leg meeting with China’s Guangzhou Evergrande here on Tuesday.
Kashiwa’s third consecutive win saw it improve to 18 points in the second stage, two clear of Kashima Antlers ahead of the rest of the eighth round of games this weekend.
“We were all telling each other before the game let’s get this game won and go top of the league, even if only temporary, and it is great that we have done that and also given ourselves a platform to build on for the ACL,” said Taketomi.
Hidekazu Otani fizzed a shot just over the bar after six minutes but, perhaps with one eye on next week’s ACL tie, the home side appeared to be content to stroke the ball around for long stretches of the first half and Obina nearly put Matsumoto in front with an 18th-minute header that was well saved by Takanori Sugeno.
Kashiwa suffered a blow when Naoki Wako was stretchered off on the half-hour mark, a sickening collision with Masaki Iida being followed by an eerie silence as the defender lay on the ground for several minutes.
Wako was taken to hospital with a concussion but was conscious, Kashiwa press officer Masato Ocho said.
“We had that accident with Wako and he was all over the place but he is conscious now and that is a relief,” said Kashiwa coach Tatsuma Yoshida. “After that we scored and it was good we could start the second half with a lead.”
But the 2011 league champions broke the deadlock in the 34th minute, when Taketomi, who like Wako has caught the eye this season, took a square pass from Otani to make space for himself, scoring with a peach of a strike from just outside the area.
Substitute Naoki Maeda rifled over as Matsumoto had a spell of pressure early in the second half and Ryusuke Sakai headed a good chance wide on 66 minutes.
But Suzuki doubled Reysol’s lead in the 70th minute. Eduardo headed Ederson’s left-wing corner against the post but Suzuki was quickest to the rebound, heading in from close range.
“The ball came back off the post from Edu but I felt there was a bit of pressure because anyone could have scored from there. I’m glad it went in,” said Suzuki.
“It hurt us losing a man (Wako) but we made that bit of extra effort and pulled together for him. He lost consciousness and then got it back so we are all relived about that.”
Cristiano nearly added to his hat trick at Sanfrecce Hiroshma on Sunday but his effort went off the cross bar with 10 minutes left.
Kashiwa will be out for revenge when it plays Guangzhou, having been hammered 8-1 on aggregate in the 2013 semifinals by the Super League side, which went on to beat FC Seoul in the final.