Soccer / J. League

Antlers, Frontale play to 1-1 draw

Kyodo

Sho Ito scored for the second game running on Friday as Kashima Antlers salvaged a 1-1 draw against Kawasaki Frontale.

Ito scored the equalizer for the reigning Asian champions at Todoroki Stadium. He controlled a long pass from Atsuto Uchida before driving it home past South Korean goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong in the 21st minute.

Despite dominating possession and completing more than twice as many passes, Frontale were unable to hold onto an early lead created by Kengo Nakamura.

Nakamura opened the scoring in the ninth minute, striking with a free kick from just outside the penalty area. It was Kawasaki’s first goal in the league this season, after it was held to a 0-0 draw by FC Tokyo in its opener on Saturday.

“I had a feeling that I can score when I put the ball down, this happens once in a while,” the 38-year-old midfielder said. “It was our first goal of the season, so I hoped this would give the team some momentum.

“But we conceded a goal soon after and we couldn’t keep our momentum running. We lacked concentration. All I could say of this match was that we wasted our opportunity.”

Frontale came close to scoring right before the final whistle, but goalkeeper Kwoun Sun-tae repeatedly denied Akihiro Ienaga and Kei Chinen their opportunities.

Ito scored the only goal Saturday when Kashima opened the season with a shocking 2-1 loss to newly promoted Oita Trinita.

“I think the team did a decent job. I told the players they did well during the entire 90 minutes,” Antlers manager Go Oiwa said. “Winning a point at an away match is always good. We need to recover ahead of our Asian Champions League match.”

At Edion Stadium Hiroshima, Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Jubilo Iwata played to a scoreless draw. Both teams also opened their campaign last week with a draw.