• Kyodo


A tough own goal by Kashiwa goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno gifted Ventforet Kofu a point as Reysol were held to a 2-2 draw in the J. League on Sunday.

Tatsuma Yoshida’s men missed an excellent opportunity to cook up the pressure on second-stage leaders Kashima Antlers after Sugeno, trying to catch a Junya Ito header off the post, fumbled the ball over his own line in the 70th minute to make it 2-2.

Third-place Reysol saw their three-game win streak come to an end, inching within three points of Antlers going into the international break.

Cristiano had opened the scoring for the hosts after 27 minutes with Masato Kudo doubling Kashiwa’s lead three minutes before halftime. Takuma Abe pulled Kofu within one in the 48th minute.

Yoshida tried to put a positive spin on the result, saying his team is in position to overtake Kashima on any given weekend.

“It’s disappointing because we were ahead by two,” the manager said. “The players were talking about taking more control during halftime.

“We still won a point, a point that will allow us to go top provided that we do our jobs.”

Reysol have a challenging September ahead of them, starting with Vissel Kobe in the Nabisco Cup quarterfinals, then first-stage winners Urawa Reds in the J. League before traveling to China for the second leg of the Asian Champions League quarterfinals against Guangzhou Evergrande on Sept. 15.

Kashiwa dropped the first leg 3-1 at home on Tuesday.

“We’ve got Kobe, then Urawa, then Guangzhou so these next few games are going to be tough,” Yoshida said. “We need to try to stay fresh, especially mentally.”

In one other J1 game, Gamba Osaka climbed to fifth, six points off the pace with a 1-0 home win over Shonan Bellmare thanks to Shu Kurata’s ninth-minute strike.

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