Kawasaki Frontale extended their lead atop the standings and set a new J. League first-division record for consecutive games unbeaten Sunday with a 2-0 victory over Consadole Sapporo following goals from Kaoru Mitoma and Yu Kobayashi.
The reigning champion has stayed undefeated for 22 league games stretching back to last season, eclipsing the 21-game stand by then-J1 side Omiya Ardija across the 2012 and 2013 campaigns.
Mitoma, who has emerged as an early favorite for league MVP, netted his seventh goal of the season in the 49th minute at Kawasaki’s Todoroki Stadium.
The 23-year-old winger made no mistake with his right foot from close range after Reo Hatate deflected a cross from Akihiro Ienaga into his path.
Super-sub Kobayashi doubled the lead in injury time, beating the offside trap and scoring one-on-one against Consadole keeper Takanori Sugeno after coming off the bench in the 87th minute for his 300th J1 appearance.
Kobayashi’s goal, which came as the visitors were pressing desperately for an equalizer, was deemed onside by the video assistant referee following an initial offside ruling.
“It was a difficult stage in the match (but) I thought there was a chance for another goal,” Kobayashi said. “I’m glad I was able to help the team by scoring.”
The win moved Kawasaki 10 points clear of second-place Nagoya Grampus.
Despite their imposing record, Toru Oniki’s men were evenly matched in the first half against a Sapporo side including J1 top scorer Anderson Lopes.
Daiki Suga forced an early save from Frontale keeper Jung Sung Ryong, while at the other end Leandro Damiao missed a chance when he headed wide off a cross from Hatate.
Jung protected Kawasaki’s lead with a solid save midway through the second half, preventing an Akito Fukumori free kick from finding its way under the bar.
The loss leaves Mihailo Petrovic’s Sapporo side in 13th place.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.