Soccer / J. League

Antlers crush S-Pulse to stay close behind FC Tokyo

Kyodo

Kashima Antlers sharpened their scoring touch on Sunday after failing to score in last week’s Asian Champions League match with a 4-0 win over Shimizu S-Pulse in the J. League first division.

Serginho set up a pair of first-half goals, while Ayase Ueda scored a late brace just four days after Antlers drew 0-0 at China’s Guangzhou Evergrande in the first leg of their ACL quarterfinal.

Yasushi Endo opened the scoring when he got on the end of a long ball from Serginho and fired over S-Pulse keeper Takuo Okubo as he tried to backpedal, having rushed off his line to challenge.

Serginho scored the second from the penalty spot, after Okubo brought down Ueda in the box as he eluded the S-Pulse defense in sprinting onto a through pass from the Brazilian.

Ueda put the game out of reach in the 73rd minute when he headed in a cross from substitute Ryota Nagaki, and then completed his brace with another header from a cross by Endo with the S-Pulse defense in disarray.

“I am just here to help the team, so I’m really happy we won,” said Ueda after making an impact in his first start of the season. “Basically both goals were set up for me, and I was just there at the end.”

The three points moved second-placed Antlers onto 48 points, four behind J1 leaders FC Tokyo and three ahead of Yokohama F. Marinos. Antlers will host Tokyo on Sept. 14 at Kashima Stadium in a match with major title implications.

Elsewhere, two-time defending champions Kawasaki Frontale lost 2-1 at Cerezo Osaka, while Tsukasa Umesaki’s 90th-minute goal salvaged a 1-1 home draw for Shonan Bellmare against Urawa Reds. Urawa’s Shinzo Koroki reached double digits in goals for the eighth straight season by scoring the third-minute opener.

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