Kawasaki – Leandro Damiao and Kaoru Mitoma overcame a vintage performance from first-division career scoring leader Yoshito Okubo in Kawasaki Frontale’s 3-2 J. League win over Cerezo Osaka on Wednesday.
Damiao twice equalized to match Okubo’s brace and helped set up Mitoma’s 62nd-minute winner that kept the 2020 league and Emperor’s Cup champions atop of the table with six points from two games.
At Todoroki Stadium, where Okubo had two spells with Frontale, the 38-year-old opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a long-range drive off a counter.
Damiao leveled the score two minutes later, capping a solid Frontale buildup by volleying home from the edge of the six-yard box from a Yasuto Wakisaka cross.
Okubo restored the visitors’ lead after a 22nd-minute free kick with his 188th first-division goal in his 450th game. After the kick rebounded off the Frontale wall, defender Riku Matsuda gathered it in to the right of the area. His cross sailed over keeper Jung Sung-ryong and onto the foot of Okubo, who knocked it in.
Frontale pulled even again two minutes after the intermission on a Damiao header. With Mitoma in front of the goal attracting the attention of two defenders and keeper Kim Jin-hyeon, the unmarked Brazilian headed in Shogo Taniguchi’s perfect cross back from the goal line.
Just after the hour mark, Mitoma did most of the work getting the ball into the penalty area, where he played a slick one-two with his Brazilian strike partner.
Once more stationed directly in front of the goal, Damiao back-heeled a through pass from Mitoma that played the 23-year-old dynamo onto the ball at the left corner of the six-yard box. Mitoma then beat Kim to score the winner with his first goal of the season.
Only a finger-tip deflection by Frontale keeper Jung in the 71st minute prevented Okubo from scoring a hat-trick.
Wednesday’s other scheduled game, between Nagoya Grampus and Gamba Osaka at Toyota Stadium, was postponed after four players from Gamba and one member of the team’s staff tested positive for COVID-19. It was the first game of the season to be affected by the virus.
In a new rule created this season, games that are unable to be made up will be declared a 3-0 loss by the team which forced the cancellation.
Fans holding tickets were allowed in to watch Grampus hold an impromptu open practice.
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