KAWASAKI – Kawasaki Frontale edged troubled Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 at home on Saturday as J. League top flight action resumed following a two-week international break.
Hiroyuki Abe scored what proved to be the winner shortly before the hour mark in front of 23,209 at Todoroki Stadium to put Kawasaki (25) within six points of league-leading Kashiwa Reysol with a game in hand.
Reysol’s eight-match winning streak came to an end after they were held to a 0-0 draw away to Ventforet Kofu.
Hiroshima started confidently and Anderson Lopes tested Jung Sung-ryong with a low drive that the South Korean goalkeeper managed to gather at the second attempt on nine minutes.
But the visitors suffered the loss of Yoshifumi Kashiwa midway through the first period, the midfielder being stretchered off after taking a venomous shot from Ryota Oshima full in the face.
Poor decision making from Lopes saw a chance go begging on the half-hour mark, the Brazilian going for goal with a shot that came to nothing while three teammates in space screamed for the ball.
Kosei Shibasaki saw a header fly just off target for Hiroshima before the break, and Kawasaki had to wait until the 49th minute for its first real effort on goal, Sanfrecce ‘keeper Takuto Hayashi getting down to his left to thwart Yu Kobayashi.
But the home side took the lead in the 56th minute with a peach of strike, Abe hammering a low shot inside the near post to finish off a well-worked move involving Eduardo Neto and Elsinho.
Hiroshima went close to leveling in the 73rd minute when Yusuke Minagawa headed Mihael Mikic’s teasing cross against the bar and Jung came up with a big save to keep out substitute Kohei Shimizu deep into injury time.
The result leaves Hiroshima stuck in the relegation zone in 17th place with 10 points, two behind 15th-place Consadaole Sapporo, who were beaten 3-0 by the reigning champion Kashima Antlers.
Pedro Junior scored a brace to put Kashima in fourth place on 27 points.
In other games, a 94th-minute penalty from Hiroshi Kiyotake rescued second-place Cerezo Osaka (29 points) in a 1-1 draw at home to Shimizu S-Pulse, while third-place Gamba Osaka (28) won 1-0 at Vissel Kobe thanks to Shun Nagasawa’s 70th-minute effort.
A double from Ataru Esaka lifted Omiya Ardija 2-1 at Albirex Niigata, while Sagan Tosu and Vegalta Sendai played out a 1-1 draw.
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