With 25000 plus looking on at the Hiroshima Big Arch Stadium Sanfrecce Hiroshima were able to knock off top of the table Vegalta Sendai and leapfrog them into the top spot. The result would have buoyed the other challengers for the title who took ground from the leader by way of the top two’s leapfrogging. Marquee club Urawa nicked the chocolates at Yokohama while Iwata and Nagoya took three points each also.
The match winner came in the 64th minute when Yokohama’s experienced Nakazawa played a terrible pass back to his team mate on the half way line. The Reds pounced with little Brazilian Marcio Richardes setting Haraguchi loose and the forward duly took the ball and arrived at the box, unleashing a powerful shot that drew a strong parried effort from the keeper. Unfortunately for the home team it was Reds left back Makino who was first onto the scene and he made no mistake in first timing it into the back of the net. Again the Reds scored off a quick transition. This is actually a disturbing trend at the top of the J League. Vegalta Sendai have also been described as a ‘fit, fast transition’ team by this website. It seems to be a recipe for success in the J League at the moment. Hopefully, it’s not a sign of weakness. Next year’s ACL will tell that tale.
Jubilo Iwata’s recent run of good form continued with victory away at Kobe. The visitors in their white strip had trailed at half time but when Ryo Okui received a second yellow in the 62nd minute things turned. Iwata were able to pinch two goals, the winner coming in the 82nd minute via Komano’s assist for striker Yamada. Komano had just come off a confidence boosting performance for the national team against Iraq. Meanwhile, Nagoya’s victory wasn’t so hard fought. Early on Kennedy was adjudged offside when he put the ball in the back of the net, however, Grampus would go ahead in the 38th minute via a poorly defended free kick. Taguchi was the scorer, although wily defender and part time striker Tulio claimed a touch only for ‘the powers that be’ to rule in favour of Taguchi. In the 68th minute Kennedy would get his goal via a well executed lunging tap in. Iwata and Nagoya are both 6 points off the lead with nine league games to go.
Next week in the J League all eyes will been on Mizuho Athletics Stadium in Nagoya. Grampus face competition leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima. The Aichi prefecture team should pack the 20000 seater stadium if good conditions prevail. Urawa host relegation battling Gamba Osaka. Sendai are at home to Kobe while Iwata host battlers Niigata.