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Rapid first-half scoring propels Reysol past Marinos

by Andrew McKirdy

Staff Writer

Kashiwa Reysol blitzed Yokohama F. Marinos with two goals in the space of two first-half minutes to claim a 2-0 win in the J. League on Saturday.

Marinos went into the weekend having climbed into fourth in the table on the back of two straight wins, but Cristiano scored a 25th-minute penalty and Hiroto Nakagawa struck again two minutes later to put Kashiwa firmly in control at Hitachi Stadium.

Marinos improved in the second half but still could not find a way past a resolute Kashiwa defense, as Reysol picked up their first home win of the season and moved up to 10th in the table after eight games.

“We’ve been winning games when we’ve scored the first goal this season, but there have been games where we just couldn’t manage to get in front,” said Reysol captain Hidekazu Otani, who was making his 302nd appearance for the club. “So it was important that we got the first goal today, even though it was from a penalty.

“We had to defend for longer periods in the second half than we would have liked, but we held firm at the times when we probably would have conceded in other games. We managed to keep a clean sheet and we want to keep that going. It’s great to finally win at home.”

Marinos missed their best chance to get back into the game when defender Milos Degenek narrowly failed to connect with Jun Amano’s free-kick delivery at the back post in the 48th minute.

“I don’t want people to put too much pressure on us, thinking that because we win two games, we’re going to win every game,” said Australian international Degenek, who joined Marinos from 1860 Munich over the offseason. “Don’t put the expectations too high — we’re just footballers. You win, you lose, it’s normal.

“I think Kashiwa played really well in the first half, and in the second half we played very good — we should have played like that the whole game. Next week we have four games in 14 days and we have to concentrate on those and forget about this one.”

Marinos handed Reysol a gift-wrapped opportunity when Takuya Kida misjudged the flight of Yuki Otsu’s cross into the box and controlled the ball with his arm. Cristiano made no mistake from the penalty spot, dispatching the ball past Hiroki Iikura despite the goalkeeper diving the right way.

Two minutes later, the home side doubled its lead. Junya Ito picked out Otani with a cross to the back post, and the Reysol captain nodded it back for 155-cm midfielder Nakagawa to finish with a sliding volley.

“Nakagawa did an important job in defense today, but also in attack with his passing and crossing,” said Reysol manager Takahiro Shimotaira. “He really helped the team out with that second goal.”

Marinos spent the rest of the first half in a shell-shocked daze but came out with all guns blazing after the break, and Degenek almost pulled a goal back just three minutes after the restart.

“In the second half we had more possession and we made a lot of chances,” said Marinos manager Erick Mombaerts. “If Milos had scored that chance from the free kick, I think it would have rattled them. But unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.”

Instead, Reysol steadily reasserted control of the match, and although Cristiano narrowly failed to notched his second goal after a sharp turn and shot in the 88th minute, the home side had comfortably done enough to claim the three points.

“I’m very happy to finally win at home and I’m grateful to the players,” said Shimotaira. “In the first half we played the kind of game we wanted to, expressing ourselves and scoring goals.

“In the second half we were looking to hit them on the counter and we had chances to score more goals. I think we could have done better on that front and we will be looking to improve in the next game.”

Elsewhere in the J. League, leaders Urawa Reds stayed clear of the chasing pack with a 3-2 win over Consadole Sapporo, while Kengo Kawamata, Shunsuke Nakamura and Hayao Kawabe were all on target as Jubilo Iwata handed champions Kashima Antlers a 3-0 home defeat.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima threw away a two-goal lead but eventually salvaged a point with a 95th-minute equalizer from Kosei Shibasaki in a 3-3 draw with Vegalta Sendai.

Ventforet Kofu and Cerezo Osaka drew 1-1, and FC Tokyo beat Albirex Niigata 3-0 to pick up their first win in four games.

In the day’s late game, Cho Dong-geon scored the only goal in the ninth minute as Sagan Tosu beat Vissel Kobe 1-0.