Soccer / J. League

Bellmare, Frontale play to scoreless draw

Kyodo

Shonan Bellmare escaped with a 0-0 draw against Kawasaki Frontale in the J. League on Wednesday night after striker Yu Kobayashi missed a late penalty for the visitors at a rain-soaked BMW Stadium.

Following the postponement of their July 28 clash due to Typhoon Jongdari, the two sides played their rescheduled match in a torrential downpour brought on by another approaching storm system.

Having dominated possession and pinned Bellmare inside their half for long stretches, second-place Frontale missed a golden opportunity to close the gap on league leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima to a single point by failing to capitalize in the slippery conditions.

Kobayashi won the penalty in the 84th minute when he was brought down inside the box by Takuya Okamoto with a tackle from behind.

The Frontale marksman, however, let Bellmare off the hook, sending his spot kick directly at the chest of keeper of Yota Akimoto.

The penalty came moments after substitute forward Kei Chinen squandered another potential winner, with Akimoto deflecting his close-range shot onto the post after Kobayashi made a run down the right followed by a short cross to Chinen in front of goal.

Kobayashi forced another save from Akimoto in the third minute of additional time when he drove a low, dipping shot from the top left of the box.

In a first half of relatively few highlights, forward Akihiro Ienaga created one of Frontale’s best chances in the 11th minute when he ran onto a diagonal long ball from former Bellmare midfielder Hokuto Shimoda.

Ienaga, a three-time Japan international, dribbled smartly from the right wing to the edge of the box, switching from his right to left boot to create space for a shot, but blazed over the bar.

He was on target in first-half injury time with a low shot from the top of the box that Akimoto was able to bat away.

The draw leaves Frontale on 53 points, three behind Sanfrecce.