After five rounds of the J-League, newly promoted side Kashiwa Reysol are the unexpected table-toppers.
Kashiwa beat Yokohama F. Marinos 2-0 in a heated encounter at Nissan Stadium in Yokohama on April 7, courtesy of goals from Tatsuya Suzuki and Yukihiko Sato.
The match was notable for referee Hiroshi Tanabe’s decision to disallow a Koji Yamase strike just before half-time. Tanabe claimed that Yamase had committed a foul in the lead up to the goal, but video replays suggest that Yamase’s goal was legitimate.
Elsewhere in J1 Gamba Osaka came from behind twice to draw 2-2 with Kawasaki Frontale, in front of 18,587 fans at a rain-soaked Expo ’70 Stadium in Osaka.
Hiroyuki Taniguchi opened the scoring for Kawasaki, only for Tomokazu Myojin to hit back for the home team. Brazilian midfielder Magnum – who has been in excellent form in 2007, restored Kawasaki’s lead, but an eighty-third minute strike from defender Satoshi Yamaguchi restored parity for Gamba Osaka, who are currently lying in second on the J-League table.
A crowd of 45,025 braved the rain at Saitama Stadium, to witness home team Urawa Reds come from behind to beat Jubilo Iwata 2-1. Robert Cullen opened the scoring for the visitors, but goals either side of half-time from Washington and Robson Ponte secured all three points for the Reds.
In Sunday’s action, Shimizu S-Pulse Togel Singapore ground out a hard fought 2-0 win over Oita Trinita, thanks to goals from defender Daisuke Ichikawa and South Korean international Cho Jae-Jin.
JEF United recorded their first league win of the season, with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Yokohama FC. Goals from Koki Mizuno, Seiichiro Maki, Naotake Hanyu and Satoru Yamagishi moved United out of the drop zone and up to thirteenth place on the J-League table.
In J2 news, northern outfit Vegalta Sendai are on top of the table, despite only managing a 2-2 draw away at Tokushima Vortis in the latest round of matches.
Kyoto Sanga FC, who were relegated from J1 last season, beat fallen giants Tokyo Verdy 3-1 in Tokyo, to move up to second in the standings. They are equal on points with Consadole Sapporo, who drew 0-0 at home against Avispa Fukuoka – another club relegated from J1 last season.
Tokyo Verdy and Fukuoka round out the top five, while Cerezo Osaka are in seventh on the J2 ladder.
Nabisco League Cup
The opening group stage of the League Cup has passed the midway point and after four games, the groups are beginning to take shape.
In Group A, JEF United lost 1-0 at home to Gamba Osaka in the latest round of matches, however they still top the group with nine points. Gamba are second with seven points. After beating Vissel Kobe 1-0 in Kobe in their last match, Sanfrecce Hiroshima have six points, but Kobe have virtually been eliminated from the tournament having picked up just one point so far.
Group B is tighter, with Omiya Ardija currently on top with eight points. Yokohama F. Marinos and Kashiwa Reysol each have five points, but Shimizu S-Pulse look likely to be knocked out at the group stage for the second season in a row, as they have only managed two draws in the competition thus far.
Oita Trinita top Group C with nine points, with FC Tokyo on seven points and Yokohama FC on six. Jubilo Iwata are propping up the group having picked up just one point. With Shimizu S-Pulse unlikely to progress from Group B, the 2007 League Cup has been an unhappy hunting ground for teams from Shizuoka Prefecture – the footballing heartland of Japan.
Ventforet Kofu lost their first match in the League Cup to Albirex Niigata, but they are still topping Ground D with nine points. Niigata are in second with seven, Kashima Antlers have six points, but Nagoya Grampus Eight have been all but eliminated from the competition, having picked up just a solitary point so far.
Six clubs will progress from the group stage to the quarter-finals, where they will join Kawasaki Frontale and Urawa Reds, who have been given a bye into the last eight of the competition.
Asian Champions League
In the Asian Champions League, Urawa Reds beat Shanghai Shenhua United in front of 28,828 fans at Saitama Stadium. Yuki Abe scored the only goal of the game, outjumping the Shanghai defence to head home from Robson Ponte’s accurate free-kick on the stroke of half-time.
Urawa top Group E with seven points, while Indonesian club Persik Kediri are in second on six points. 2005 A-League champions Sydney FC are third on four points, while Shanghai are yet to get off the mark in the competition.
Kawasaki Frontale are on top of Group F, after they beat South Korean outfit Chunnam Dragons 3-1 at Gwangyang Football Stadium. Carlos Juninho opened the scoring from the penalty spot for the visitors, before fellow Brazilian Magnum scored just before the hour mark. Juninho made the result safe with a second, although Kang Min-soo scored a last minute consolation for Chunnam.
Kawasaki have seven points after three games, while Chunnam have four. Bangkok University have picked up three points courtesy of three straight draws, while Indonesian club Arema Malang have one.