Sanfrecce pick up where they left off with Gamba win

Sanfrecce Hiroshima carried on the start of the second half of the 2018 MEIJI YASUDA J1 League season in similar fashion to the way they finished the first, beating Gamba Osaka 4-0.

The table-toppers headed into Wednesday’s restart having suffered league defeat to Cerezo Osaka in May, and promptly made amends in front of their own fans. 

Patric notched an opening brace to put Sanfrecce 2-0 up against Gamba before the break, with Masato Kudo and Thai star Teerasil Dangda rounded off the scoring.

Vissel Kobe restarted the league in front of new star signing Andres Iniesta and did their best to impress the former Barcelona captain, beating V-Varen Nagasaki through Wellington’s first-half winner.

Sagan Tosu, who themselves welcomed Iniesta’s compatriot Fernando Torres over the summer, were less fortunate and fought back to earn a 1-1 draw at Shonan Bellmare.

Arguably all the attention lay on Yokohama F. Marinos, though, as they rushed to an emphatic 8-2 win over Vegalta Sendai inspired by Sho Ito’s hat-trick.

Second-placed FC Tokyo kept pace at the top of the table winning 1-0 at Kashiwa Reysol through Park Jeong-su’s own-goal, while Tamagawa Clasico rivals and reigning champions Kawasaki Frontale remain a single point behind in third after beating Consadole Sapporo 2-1.

Kashima Antlers played out a 3-3 thriller at Jubilo Iwata in a see-saw clash that saw Shoma Doi salvage a point in the 88th minute, as Urawa Reds won for the first time in three league games with a 3-1 result over Nagoya Grampus and Cerezo Osaka saw their hopes of three consecutive victories ended with a 3-0 loss to Shimizu S-Pulse.



Fernando Torres joins Sagan Tosu

Sagan Tosu on Tuesday announced the signing of former Spain international Fernando Torres, who will wear the No. 9 shirt for the Kyushu side.

Torres launched his professional career in 2000 at Atletico Madrid, joining Liverpool in 2007. After playing for Chelsea and AC Milan, he re-joined Atletico in the summer of 2015.

A multitalented striker with both speed and finishing, he’s known for his superb play both off the post and in the air.

After scoring 24 goals in his debut season with Liverpool, he placed third in the 2008 Ballon D’Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

In 2008 he was a key member of Spain’s squad at the UEFA Euro 2008, scoring the game-winning goal against Germany in the final and leading his nation to the title.



Spanish International midfielder Andres Iniesta arrives to Japan after signing with Kobe!【Press Conference Report】

On 24 May, Vissel Kobe has announced that they have agreed to sign Spanish International midfielder Andres Iniesta. A press-conference was held on the same day with Vissel Kobe Chairman Hiroshi Mikitani and Iniesta sharing the podium.

During the question and answer session, he explained what made him decide to sign with Kobe and what he likes about Japan.

“Today is a very special day. This is a significant challenge for me. My family is very happy for this opportunity to come to Japan. We would like to progress within this project. I will like to devote myself to spread not only this club, but J.League throughout Asia. Japan is one of my favorite counties. I will like to get used to the Japanese culture as soon as possible. “

--What do you think of Japanese football?

“I respect Japanese football, including the players. My impression of Japanese football is that, the skill level is at a high level and the players uses their head. They also utilize combinations. I am very familiar with the J.League and the Japan National Team. I am here in Japan to display my football, and by doing so, I sincerely hope that it will help the overall development of Japanese football. “

--What made you decide to play in Japan, and for Vissel Kobe?

 “I was blessed with many offers. The reason I chose Kobe over the other offers was that I was very interested in the project presented by them. They have also showed great amount of trust for me. I think Japan is a great country and their culture is wonderful as well. I hope to get used to the country and contribute to the team.”

--What do you like about Japan?

“Everything. I love the people here. I think it is important for me to get used to the culture as soon as possible.”


Takagi’s Cerezo brace sinks Sanfrecce

Cerezo Osaka sprang a surprise result against MEIJI YASUDA J1 League leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Sunday, winning 2-0 at Edion Stadium with Toshiyuki Takagi’s brace.

With the match appearing to head into stalemate, proceedings came to life with 10 minutes to go as Takagi opened the scoring converting Yang Dong-hyun’s lay-off.

Sanfrecce proved unable to shake off the shock and winger Takagi proceeded to then score his fourth goal of the season, inflicting the hosts’ second loss of the 2018 campaign.

However, second-placed FC Tokyo were held to a 0-0 draw by Sagan Tosu and unable to capitalise, while Kawasaki Frontale climbed into third beating Shimizu S-Pulse 3-0 with Kengo Nakamura’s double.

Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo’s upward momentum was halted at Noevir Stadium as Wellington’s masterclass for Vissel Kobe saw the hosts run out 4-0 victors, with the Brazilian notching two goals before laying on twice for Kazuma Watanabe’s own brace.

Struggling giants Gamba Osaka and Urawa Reds played out a dull 0-0 draw on Saturday, as Yokohama F. Marinos put five past V-Varen Nagasaki with Teruhito Nakagawa scoring twice to distance his team from the relegation zone.

AFC Champions League quarter-finalists Kashima Antlers’ domestic struggles continued however with a 2-1 home defeat to Vegalta Sendai, while Jubilo Iwata slumped 1-0 at Shonan Bellmare.

It sees Jubilo just one point above Kashiwa Reysol, who held on to win 3-2 at Nagoya Grampus in a thrilling encounter.


Sanfrecce Hiroshima fight back to beat Vegalta Sendai

Sanfrecce Hiroshima continue setting a breakneck pace at the top of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League, beating Vegalta Sendai 3-1 on Saturday to go 10 points clear at the top of the table.

Despite being surprised by Hiroaki Okuno’s opener, Hiroshi Jofuku’s men soon took charge following Patric’s brace – the second with which he powered home – either side of Yoshifumi Kashiwa’s wonderful solo effort.

Second-placed FC Tokyo, who bowed out of the YBC Levain Cup in midweek, were unable to produce a response on Sunday as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Consadole Sapporo – a result shared by Urawa Reds against Sagan Tosu.

Shimizu S-Pulse ended a run of three defeats in all competitions when they beat Shonan Bellmare 4-2 following Crislan’s star showing and Koya Kitagawa’s brace.

Meanwhile, Vissel Kobe picked up their first win in nearly a month with a 2-0 result at Jubilo Iwata despite being without Lukas Podolski, but bottom side Nagoya Grampus were humbled 3-0 by fellow promoted team V-Varen Nagasaki.

Kawasaki Frontale came back from a goal down to beat Kashiwa Reysol 2-1 thanks to Yuma Suzuki’s 92nd-minute effort to stay fourth.

However, Yokohama F. Marinos and Gamba Osaka remained firmly in the relegation race after Jun Amano cancelled out Jungo Fujimoto’s opener for a 0-0 scoreline.


Tokyo down Frontale in Tamagawa Clasico

FC Tokyo secured a 2-0 victory in the Tamagawa Clasico over Kawasaki Frontale on Saturday to continue remaining second in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League.

Goals in either half from Kento Hashimoto and Masato Morishige helped Toru Oniki’s men claim local bragging rights over the reigning Japanese champions, who slipped into fifth place after defeat. 

Consadole Sapporo are right behind having beaten Gamba Osaka 2-0, leaving the latter 16th in the table and mired in the relegation fight.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima nevertheless retain their eight-point advantage at the top of the table though, with Toshihiro Aoyama and Patric striking in a 2-0 win over Vissel Kobe the next day.

Kashima Antlers look to be rebuilding some momentum as they picked up a second straight win seeing off Urawa Reds 1-0 with Mu Kanazaki’s first-half penalty.

It sees Kashiwa Reysol overtaken in the table after they surrendered 2-1 at home to Jubilo Iwata, but Cerezo Osaka avoided any shocks as they saw off V-Varen Nagasaki 3-1 as Nagoya Grampus battled to a 1-1 draw with Yokohama F. Marinos.

Takuma Nishimura’s brace got Vegalta Sendai back to winning ways as they emerged 3-1 victors at Shonan Bellmare, while Shimizu S-Pulse suffered a second straight loss slumping to 10-man Sagan Tosu by the same scoreline.


Tokyo move second behind Sanfrecce after Grampus thriller

Diego Oliveira’s brace saw FC Tokyo to a thrilling 3-2 MEIJI YASUDA J1 League win over bottom side Nagoya Grampus on Saturday, moving them second in the table.

The Brazilian opened the scoring from the penalty spot before his compatriot Jo cancelled that out, but his second right after the break following Kensuke Nagai’s strike was enough to seal victory.

It was a result that keeps the capital club six points behind leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who beat V-Varen Nagasaki 2-0 thanks to two goals in the space of seven minutes in the second half. 

Sanfrecce’s fortunes are in distinct contrast to those of Kashima Antlers, who have fallen to 15th after being beaten 3-0 at Yokohama F. Marinos. 

Keita Endo and Jun Amano goals had the guests chasing the game early, and Kosuke Nakamachi’s final blow ensured their fifth loss of the season.

Gamba Osaka are right below Antlers after earning a rare turn of fortunes beating Sagan Tosu 3-0 on Sunday, but Urawa Reds were stunned 1-0 at home by Shonan Bellmare.

Elsewhere, Shimizu S-Pulse beat Kashiwa Reysol 2-1, while 10-man Consadole Sapporo were held to a 2-2 draw by Vegalta Sendai after Kim Min-tae’s 73rd-minute red card.

Kenyu Sugimoto’s strike was only enough to give Cerezo Osaka a 1-1 draw at Jubilo Iwata, while Yu Kobayashi’s 88th-minute winner keeps Kawasaki Frontale in the running to defend their title with a 2-1 result at Vissel Kobe.


Sanfrecce seal eighth win with Sagan Tosu victory

Sanfrecce won their eighth game out of nine in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League season when they defeated Sagan Tosu 1-0 on Saturday.

The guests had hit the crossbar in a scare early on, but Patric scored the decisive goal with the clock ticking down to send his side nine points clear at the top of the table.

Vegalta Sendai were unable to keep up as they suffered a shock 3-0 defeat on home soil to Jubilo Iwata, who had goals from Takuya Matsuura, Daiki Ogawa and Taishi Taguchi to thank for the victory.

It was a result that allows FC Tokyo to usurp them in second place, with the capital club grinding out a 1-0 result against Shimizu S-Pulse.

Yokohama F. Marinos remain just outside the bottom three after being held to a 4-4 draw by Shonan Bellmare, who raced into the lead with Yuji Nakazawa’s own-goal.

Hugo Vieira proceeded to hit a hat-trick – his second and third goal a matter of second apart – but the damage had been done as Alen Stefanovic fired in a brace to ensure a share of the spoils in the goal-laden game.

There was further set-back for Kashima Antlers meanwhile as they lost 4-1 to reigning J.League champions Kawasaki Frontale, while Urawa Reds were held 0-0 by Consadole Sapporo. 

Lukas Podolski’s brace sealed a 3-0 win for Vissel Kobe over Nagoya Grampus while Hwang Ui-jo gave relegation-threatened Gamba Osaka a 1-0 victory in the Osaka derby over Cerezo Osaka.

On Sunday, V-Varen Nagasaki emerged 1-0 winners over Kashiwa Reysol to pull level on 11 points with their opponents.


Vegalta Sendai stay in second after Kawasaki Frontale point

Vegalta Sendai’s bid to close in on MEIJI YASUDA J1 League leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima suffered when they were held 0-0 by Kawasaki Frontale on Saturday.

Susumu Watanabe’s men have been punching above their weight this season and sit second in the standings, but were unable to find their way past reigning Japanese champions Frontale.

The result allowed Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo to close within one point of them in fourth, as they overcame Kashiwa Reysol 2-1.

Hosts Reysol roared into a ninth-minute lead, but Consadole came back thanks to a strike from Takumi Miyayoshi two minutes later before Ken Tokura won things right before the final whistle.

Cerezo Osaka also moved level with Vegalta on 15 points with their 1-0 win over FC Tokyo, but Gamba Osaka’s descent continued as they surrendered 3-0 to V-Varen Nagasaki.

However, Kashima Antlers turned their fortunes around after two straight league losses, beating Nagoya Grampus 2-0 through Mu Kanazaki’s brace.


Sasaki & Hayashi help Sanfrecce five points clear

Sanfrecce Hiroshima had goalkeeper Takuto Hayashi to thank as they secured a 1-0 win at Kashiwa Reysol to move five points clear at the top of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League.

Sho Sasaki blasted in a venomous shot early on for what proved Sanfrecce’s winner, but it was Hayashi who came up big every with his saves including keeping out a penalty from Cristiano.

Second-placed Kawasaki Frontale will have been frustrated they could not keep up the pace having been held 1-1 by Yokohama F. Marinos.

Akihiro Ienaga scored the opener for reigning Japanese champions Frontale but they could not hold on to their lead, letting in Yuji Nakazawa’s equaliser three minutes after.

FC Tokyo had no such problems at V-Varen Nagasaki as they overcame their hosts 5-2 through Diego Oliveira’s brace, but Gamba Osaka endured a home setback losing 1-0 to Vissel Kobe after Shuhei Otsuki’s 95th-minute winner.


Antlers drop in J1 League after second loss

Kashima Antlers’ slow start to the 2018 MEIJI YASUDA J1 League season continued with a 2-1 loss at Shonan Bellmare on Saturday.

An own-goal was cancelled out by Yuma Suzuki, but Miki Yamane’s stoppage-time winner was enough to condemn Antlers to defeat, as they sit 10th in the standings.

Things are at least looking up for Urawa Reds who held on to beat Vegalta Sendai 1-0 for their first win of the season - Shinzo Koroki’s early strike doing the job.

Fast starters Shimizu S-Pulse were meanwhile held 0-0 at Jubilo Iwata but Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo had no such issues overcoming their opposition, hammering Nagoya Grampus 3-0.

Cerezo Osaka therefore rose on par with S-Pulse’s nine points this term with their 2-1 result over Sagan Tosu sealed by goals either side of half-time.


Sanfrecce edge Frontale to stay top

Sanfrecce Hiroshima saw off reigning Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 to remain top of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League.

In an evenly-poised encounter between two sides laying down a challenge for silverware this term, it was Patric’s goal late in the 85th-minute that eventually swung the six-pointer the visitors’ way.

In a lofty position of their own is Vegalta Sendai who are second after their 1-0 victory over V-Varen Nagasaki with Takuma Nishimura netting the only strike of the game early on.

FC Tokyo played out a 3-2 thriller with Gamba Osaka as Hwang Ui-jo’s brace was insufficient to overturn the eventual defeat in the capital, Nagoya Grampus losing to Sagan Tosu by the same scoreline.

Cerezo Osaka saw off Shonan Bellmare 2-1 and Kashiwa Reysol’s similar result over Vissel Kobe on Friday means that they climb over Kashima Antlers in the table following their 0-0 draw against Consadole Sapporo.

High-flying Shimizu S-Pulse meanwhile saw their run halted by a 1-0 reverse on home soil against Yokohama F. Marinos, following Hugo Vieira’s early winner.


Frontale rise to first after Jubilo hold Sanfrecce

The fourth round of the 2018 MEIJI YASUDA J1 League took place on Sunday, March 18, with Kawasaki Frontale taking over first place from early leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Frontale, playing away at Nagoya Grampus, successfully protected the 1-0 lead they picked up in the 65th minute when super-sub Yoshito Okubo headed in a goal with his first touch. 

Sanfrecce struggled to finish their chances in a 0-0 draw against Jubilo Iwata as their winning streak stopped at three matches.

Shimizu S-Pulse squandered Shota Kaneko’s ninth-minute goal in a 1-1 draw with visiting Vegalta Sendai. 

Meanwhile, Kashima Antlers held on to Mu Kanazaki’s 14th-minute effort at Sagan Tosu to earn their second win of the season.

In the Kansai Derby at Noevir Stadium, Vissel Kobe handily defeated Cerezo Osaka 2-0 on goals by Naoyuki Fujita and captain Lukas Podolski. 

Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo needed a dramatic header from Chanathip at the end of additional time to finish 2-1 against V-Varen Nagasaki and earn their first win of the season.

Diego Oliveira’s goal helped FC Tokyo to a 1-0 win over Shonan Bellmare, while Hugo Viera’s late strike saw Yokohama F. Marinos sneak past Urawa Reds in a 1-0 result at Saitama Stadium.

Gamba Osaka rebounded from an early two-goal deficit against Kashiwa Reysol to draw 2-2 thanks to Hwang Ui-jo’s double, giving the 2014 treble winners their first point of the campaign.


Sanfrecce seals comeback at Urawa Reds

Sanfrecce Hiroshima surged to a 2-1 comeback win at Urawa Reds to record their second straight opening win in the 2018 MEIJI YASUDA J1 League.

Last term’s relegation survivors have made a fantastic start to the new campaign and showed grit to come back from Takuya Aoki’s opener right before the break.

Kosei Shibasaki fired home Sanfrecce’s equaliser after the hour before Sho Inagaki blasted home the winner, moving Hiroshi Jofuku’s men second.


Kanazaki earns Antlers first J1 League win

Mu Kanazaki fired home a late winner as Kashima Antlers picked up their first win of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League season, beating Gamba Osaka 1-0.
The Japan striker scored the only goal of the game in the 78th minute in an even match, as they attempt to wrest back the title from Kawasaki Frontale at the end of this season.
Reigning champions Frontale were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Shonan Bellmare as Temma Matsuda struck to cancel out Yu Kobayashi’s opener.
Title contenders Cerezo Osaka were meanwhile held to a thrilling 3-3 draw against Consadole Sapporo.
The pick of the goals coming before the break from Cerezo before as Toshiyuki Takagi finished clinically from Yochiro Kakitani's superb backheel assist.
Elsewhere, Vissel Kobe endured a mighty 4-2 upset at home as they surrendered to Shimizu S-Pulse despite fighting back to 2-2 at one point, while FC Tokyo endured a 1-0 reverse in front of their own fans against Vegalta Sendai.
There were no shocks for Kashiwa Reysol and Nagoya Grampus, however, as they saw off Yokohama F. Marinos and Jubilo Iwata on home turf respectively.


Frontale begin title defence with comprehensive win

Kawasaki Frontale picked up where they left off last term, beginning their 2018 MEIJI YASUDA J1 League campaign with a 3-0 win at Jubilo Iwata.

The Japanese champions effectively ended the tie as a contest by half time, with Kengo Nakamura, Shogo Taniguchi and Eduardo all scoring before the break, and there was time for Yoshito Okubo to make his second debut with the club.

Kashima Antlers would have liked such firepower when they faced Shimizu S-Pulse in a 0-0 draw, and the 2016 J1 League winners never quite got going.

2018 Japanese Super Cup winners Cerezo Osaka meanwhile began their campaign holding Yokohama F. Marinos to a 1-1 stalemate, with Yoichiro Kakitani leaving it late to cancel out Ryosuke Yamanaka’s 17th-minute opener.

Kashiwa Reysol were not so fortunate as they endured their first setback of the season, losing 1-0 at Vegalta Sendai to Ko Itakura’s winner.


Urawa Reds begin J1 League challenge with Tokyo draw

The MEIJI YASUDA J1 League’s 25th season has officially kicked off, with the weekend already having provided a number of entertaining fixtures to Japanese football fans.

The action got of to a fast stat in the first edition of Friday Night J.League, with Sagan Tosu hosting Vissel Kobe at Best Amenity Stadium. 

The hosts took an early lead when Kyosuke Tagawa converted from the penalty spot in the 3rd minute, but Vissel salvaged a point when striker Mike Havenaar netted an equaliser just three minutes from full time.

On Saturday, FC Tokyo and Urawa Reds drew 1-1 in a nationally-televised showdown at Ajinomoto Stadium. 

Both goals came in rapid succession early in the second half, with Keigo Higashi putting Tokyo ahead in the 48th minute and Urawa’s Tomoaki Makino evening the score in the 50th.

Thai national team star Teerasil Dangda made an impressive debut for Sanfrecce Hiroshima, heading in the winning goal of his team’s 1-0 win over Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo. 

In giving head coach Hiroshi Jofuku a debut win for his new club, Teerasil became the first Thai player to score in a J1 match, beating Consadole midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin to the punch.

In a battle between promoted sides, J1 newcomers V-Varen Nagasaki shocked Shonan Bellmare when they equalised Lee Jeong-hyeop’s early effort through Daichi Tagami’s goal in the 16th minute. 

Bellmare may have eventually came out on top through Toshiki Ishikawa’s 80th-minute goal, but V-Varen showed that they are capable of holding their own in the top flight.

The most fireworks were reserved for Panasonic Stadium Suita, where Nagoya Grampus topped Gamba Osaka in a 3-2 slugfest that featured goals from a trio of Grampus’ foreign stars in Gabriel Xavier, Rocha and Jo. 

Former Brazil international Jo netted the stunning game-winner in the 84th minute, beating Gamba goalkeeper Masaaki Higashiguchi to slot his grounder into the back of the net.

In addition to four J1 matches, Sunday will see the kickoff of the MEIJI YASUDA J2 League with a full slate of 11 fixtures.


Midfielder Osmar joins Cerezo on loan

Cerezo Osaka on Wednesday announced the signing of Spanish midfielder Osmar Ibanez Barba on a one-year loan from FC Seoul.

The 29-year-old spent the last four seasons with the K League side, scoring 13 goals in 142 appearances. He was named to the K League’s Best XI of 2016.

Osmar previously played for Thailand’s Buriram United, helping the side clinch the domestic treble in 2013.

It was a feat that earned him recognition as the Thai Premier League’s Defender of the Year.


Sato remains captain for Grampus in 2018

Nagoya Grampus on Thursday announced that striker Hisato Sato will remain captain for the 2018 season.

The 2012 J.League MVP joined Grampus in 2017 from Sanfrecce Hiroshima, helping Yahiro Kazama’s side earn a swift return to the J1 League with five goals from 28 appearances.

“It’s an honor to be named captain for another season,” Sato commented. 

“No matter what the circumstances I want to play positively and embody our attacking philosophy so that we can play as a united team on the J1 stage.”

Midfielder Yuki Kobayashi and defender Ryuji Izumi were named vice-captains for Grampus, whose J1 campaign opens on February 24 at Gamba Osaka.


Veteran Nakazawa named F. Marinos captain

Yokohama F. Marinos on Thursday announced that centre-back Yuji Nakazawa will serve as the team’s captain for the coming season.

The 39-year-old has played for the Nissan Stadium residents since the 2002 season, making nearly 600 total appearances for the club in addition to almost 100 more for Tokyo Verdy at the start of his career.

“It’s an incredible honor to be named captain,” Nakazawa commented. 

“My title may change but I want to continue to play as I always do. I want to make sure we treat each day importantly.”

Defender Yuzo Kurihara, goalkeeper Hiroki Ikura and midfielder Takuya Kida will retain their vice-captain positions from last season, joined by newly-elected midfielder Kosuke Nakamachi.