SAPPORO – Elsinho and Yu Kobayashi struck either side of halftime to give Kawasaki Frontale a 2-1 win away to Consadole Sapporo on Wednesday night, as the J. League first division returned to action.
Ken Tokura pulled a goal back for the hosts in injury time, but it was too late to stop Frontale from securing a well-earned road win following the two-month World Cup recess.
Consadole manager Mihailo Petrovic started Tokura and Thai international Chanathip in attack behind lone striker Jay Bothroyd, who helped put the Frontale defense under pressure early.
Bothroyd, who has quickly become a fan favorite since joining from Jubilo Iwata at the start of the season, showed his value as both a playmaker and a target man, holding up the ball in attack while looking to set up teammates.
The home side squandered a chance to take the lead in the 29th minute, when Tokura headed straight at Frontale keeper Jung Sung-ryong after Daiki Suga floated a cross to the 187-cm attacker directly in front of goal.
One-time England international Bothroyd had a penalty appeal waved away in the 36th minute. The former Cardiff City and Wolverham Wanderers forward latched onto a long ball before coming to ground inside the box, claiming he was pulled down by defender Tatsuki Nara.
Frontale took the lead against the run of play in the 42nd minute, when right back Elsinho dribbled past three defenders before unleashing a shot that Consadole keeper Gu Sung-yun fumbled into the back of the net.
The visitors opened the second half aggressively, launching successive waves of attack that culminated in Kobayashi’s fifth league goal of the season.
Moments after putting a close-range strike over the bar, the 30-year-old striker launched a shot from the left of the box that curled its way through a cluster of defenders and inside the opposite post.
The hosts halved the lead in the fifth minute of injury time when Jung failed to corral a deflected Akito Fukumori free kick, allowing Tokura to tap in from close range.
Frontale is third in the league with 30 points, 10 behind leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who beat Gamba Osaka 4-0 thanks to a brace from Patric and goals by Masato Kudo and Teerasil Dangda.
Yokohama F. Marinos returned to action in emphatic form, hammering Vegalta Sendai 8-2 at Yurtec Stadium. Sho Ito struck a hat-trick as five of Ange Postecoglou’s men found the back of the net.
At IAI Stadium, Shimizu S-Pulse beat visiting Cerezo Osaka 3-0 on goals from Hwang Seok-ho, Koya Kitagawa and Crislan.
Kashima Antlers snatched a 3-3 draw away to Jubilo Iwata after Shoma Doi struck an 88th-minute equalizer.
At Saitama Stadium, Urawa Reds beat last-place Nagoya Grampus 3-1 thanks to a brace from Japan World Cup squad member Wataru Endo and a 70th-minute goal from Samurai Blue teammate Tomoaki Makino.
Shonan Belmare and Sagan Tosu were deadlocked 1-1 after 90 minutes at BMW Stadium, while Vissel Kobe and FC Tokyo registered 1-0 wins, respectively, against V-Varen Nagasaki and Kashiwa Reysol.
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