• Kyodo


Kawasaki Frontale hammered Ventforet Kofu 4-0 to remain top of the J. League second stage on Saturday, extending their unbeaten run to 16 matches.

Yoshito Okubo headed home a minute to the break before an own goal and strikes from Yu Kobayashi and Elsinho in the second half saw Kawasaki, which dominated throughout, ease to a comfortable three points at their Todoroki Stadium.

“We knew we’d be attacking for a long period of time and should have scored more,” said Okubo, who scored his J. League record-extending 170th goal.

“There were lots of situations where we could break down defenses, but instead making mistakes and not taking chances. It’s not all good just because we’re winning.”

Kawasaki lead the second-stage standings on a goal difference, with Urawa Reds placing second also on 19 points after a 4-1 home win over Shonan Bellmare. Kawasaki tops the overall standings on 57 points, followed by Urawa’s 52.

Kofu suffered its second straight defeat against a title contender, having lost 2-0 to Urawa a week ago at home, and sits a point and a place above the relegation zone.

Yu Kobayashi had Kawasaki’s first chance in the 18th minute but saw an effort blocked by Kofu ‘keeper Kohei Kawata’s face after captain Kengo Nakamura split Ventforet defense with a looping pass.

Nakamura chipped through another into the box in the 20th minute, when Elsinho’s first-time volley was again denied by Kawata, and Elsinho smashed wide of the post after latching onto another smart ball from the playmaker.

Kofu had occasional counters and set-pieces but didn’t test Frontale’s goal and Okubo broke the deadlock in the 44th minutes, rising unmarked to score a thumping header off Koji Hashimoto’s left-hand corner.

Frontale’s second came three minutes after the break as Hashimoto raced clear down the left before his cross took a touch off Kobayashi and bounced off Marquinhos Parana for an own goal.

Nakamura’s teasing ball into the box finally bore fruit eight minutes later, Kobayashi sprinting in from the right to control the ball in the air and volleying into the far-bottom corner to extend his scoring run to seven games.

Elsinho scored Kawasaki’s fourth in the 69th minute, receiving a ball wide on the right from Okubo before steering to the far corner.

Kofu’s Brazilian substitute Davi was shown a straight red card for head-butting Okubo with five minutes to go, while Okubo hit the bar in the dying minute when he had just the ‘keeper to beat.

Urawa eased to its win after Yuki Muto scored a brace, while first-stage champion Kashima Antlers lost their third straight with a 1-0 home defeat to Vegalta Sendai.

Elsewhere, Yokohama F. Marinos won 2-1 away to Kashiwa Reysol to move up to third in the second stage, four points behind Kawasaki and Urawa. Gamba Osaka defeated Sagan Tosu 2-1 at home, with both teams sitting a point behind Marinos.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima claimed a 2-0 home win over relegation-threatened Nagoya Grampus, while FC Tokyo defeated Jubilo Iwata 3-2 at home. Omiya Ardija won 1-0 at home over Aivspa Fukuoka, and Albirex Niigata triumphed 1-0 at home against Vissel Kobe.

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