KAWASAKI – Kawasaki Frontale preserved their unbeaten start to the season with a 2-1 win at home to 10-man Kashiwa Reysol in the J. League first division on Friday night.
Two goals late in the first half from Shogo Taniguchi and last season’s J. League Player of the Year Kengo Nakamura put Frontale in control on a cold night at Todoroki Stadium.
Kosuke Taketomi replied for Reysol, but the visitors were unable to make any further inroads after they had Yuta Nakayama sent off midway through the second period.
“It’s nice to get our first home win of the season,” Nakamura said. “We had drawn twice (at home) including the Asian Champions League game and had not played that well. Today there were still things left for us to improve on but the important thing is that we got three points.”
Kawasaki improved to seven points from three games, while Reysol have three. Kashima Antlers (six points), meanwhile, ended Yokohama F. Marinos’ (six) perfect start to the campaign, Yuma Suzuki scoring with a late header to give the reigning champions a 1-0 home win.
“It is important that we are not losing,” Kawasaki manager Toru Oniki said. “In that sense I have to give credit to the players. We were at home today and knew we needed a win and I am grateful that the players carried out their job and came through with one.”
Frontale made a bright start, Nakamura unleashing a low drive from the edge of the box that Kashiwa goalkeeper Kosuke Nakamura did well to turn around the post with less than two minutes gone.
Jung Sung-ryong pulled off an even better save at the other end, keeping out Taketomi’s header from point-blank range following a cross from the right by Junya Ito.
But it was Kawasaki that would break the deadlock three minutes before the interval, Nakamura swinging in a corner for Taniguchi to glance into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Nakamura then doubled the home side’s lead with a second in the first minute of stoppage, sweeping home a simple finish after being teed up by Hiroyuki Abe.
“Shogo just put my corner away and I simply scored from Abe’s pass. I had a goal and an assist but I didn’t really do anything out of the ordinary,” said Nakamura.
Abe squandered a great chance to make it 3-0 from Nakamura’s pass when he blazed over after Kosuke Nakamura had saved his initial effort 10 minutes into the second period.
Kashiwa made Abe pay for that miss by reducing the arrears on the hour mark. Cristiano saw his long-range free kick pushed behind by Jung, but the Brazilian midfielder whipped in the resultant corner and Taketomi rose above his marker to power home.
Kashiwa’s hopes of pulling itself level suffered a major blow, however, as Nakayama was handed a straight red card for bundling over Nakamura as he raced through on goal with 20 minutes left.
“(Shinnosuke) Nakatani was covering (Nakayama) when Nakamura went down and I thought a straight red was a bit too harsh,” Cristiano said. “I told the ref directly how I felt after the game and that a yellow would have been fair when you look at the flow of the game. He had been officiating the game fairly.”
The match was preceded by a moment’s silence observed in memory of the thousands of victims that lost their lives in the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the country’s northeastern region.
In Friday’s other game, Shinzo Koroki put free-scoring Urawa Reds on the way to a 4-1 hammering of Ventforet Kofu at Saitama Stadium for their second league win of the season.