Yu Kobayashi scored his 100th career goal, sparking Kawasaki Frontale to a 3-0 J. League first-division win over league leaders FC Tokyo on Sunday.
Kobayashi headed in the opener in the 20th minute of the “Tamagawa Classico” match at Tokyo’s Ajinomoto Stadium, and Manabu Saito scored the visitors’ second after the break before Hiroyuki Abe put the game to bed in the 69th minute.
The win lifted Frontale, the two-time defending champion, into third place on 35 points, one back of Yokohama F. Marinos and four behind of Tokyo.
Except for some careless early fouls, Frontale played with poise and caution, maintaining possession for long spells and keeping Tokyo’s fearsome front duo of Diego Oliveira and Kensuke Nagai from getting any real service.
Moments after Tokyo was saved by the bar on a header from Brazilian defender Jeseil, Kobayashi scored from another corner. The Frontale forward slipped his marker, headed down Hokuto Shimoda’s cross and bounced it in for the opening goal.
“Hokuto gave me a good ball to work with. I hadn’t been scoring on set plays, and the coach staff had been encouraging me to make the most of my skills in those situations. So I’m pretty pleased with this,” Kobayashi said. “They reminded me that I hadn’t been getting away from my marker, but today I did a good job of that and then didn’t miss.”
Minutes into the second half, Frontale forced a pair of rapid-fire saves from Tokyo keeper Akihiro Hayashi, but his efforts only delayed the onslaught. Frontale began carving up Tokyo’s back line with some superb movement in the attacking zone, and Saito’s 55th-minute score was a perfect example.
Veteran midfielder Kengo Nakamura dodged one tackle and provided a through ball to Kobayashi near the right post, who flicked a cross to Saito unmarked near the far post for an easy score.
Fifteen minutes later it was more of the same, Saito caught the hosts’ back line napping. His shot in a one-on-one with keeper Hayashi was blocked, but a half-hearted clearance attempt gave the ball back to Frontale. With the defense in utter disarray, three quick passes set up Abe, who blasted home from the edge of the area.
“From the start the plan was to keep up the pressure by not falling back. We were ready to attack from start to finish,” Kobayashi said.
In Sunday’s other J1 match, Shonan Bellmare scored three second-half goals at home to beat Vissel Kobe 3-1.