There was a lot of movement in the table this past weekend as some red-hot teams continued their winning ways to jump up the table. Let's break down the latest results from the 2021 MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE.
Nagoya Grampus, 2, Gamba Osaka 0
Nagoya bounced back from their first defeat of the season with a vintage performance. They were absolutely rock solid at the back, dictated where the match was played, Mitchell Langerak was there on the single occasion the visitors got a look at goal, and they were clinical going forward. Ryogo Yamasaki got on the end of a cross to put Grampus in front in the first half and then Yuki Soma scored a brilliant individual goal on the other side of the break to get Nagoya back to their winning ways and extend Gamba’s rough run of form.
FC Tokyo 1, Sagan Tosu 2
It was the story of two halves as Sagan Tosu visited FC Tokyo. Sagan were dominant in the first half, controlling the pace of play and creating all of the best chances, so when Noriyoshi Sakai and Yuta Higuchi each found the back of the net to put them in front, it was entirely deserved. The second half felt like an entirely different contest, though. Tokyo were on the front foot and Masato Morishige brought them closer when he headed home from a corner kick. An equalizer seemed inevitable, but Tokyo just missed the frame on a couple good chances and, when they did find the target, Park Il-gyu made some terrific saves to preserve a crucial away win for third-place Sagan.
Yokohama F·Marinos 5, Yokohama FC 0
The Yokohama Derby was, unsurprisingly, a Marinos romp. The team that hasn’t lost since the season’s opening week was terrific, while the team at the bottom of the table simply looked overmatched. Daizen Maeda scored for Marinos to bring him level atop the league’s scoring charts, but this was a full team show for the home side. They were the better side in all aspects, keeping about two-thirds of the possession and creating more than three times as many shots, leaving no doubt who the best team in Yokohama is - a Marinos side now into the top four.
Urawa Reds 3, Oita Trinita 2
Things started with a bang for Urawa Reds, who scored within three minutes as Daigo Nishi came flying in with a thumping volley to put the home side in front, but Yamato Machida hit back with two goals to put Trinita back in the lead. Urawa were undeterred, though. Tomoaki Makino matched Nishi with a flying volley of his own to bring Urawa level in the 75th minute, and then Tatsuya Tanaka delivered them the win in the 82nd minute as the Reds continued their hot streak and jumped to 8th in the table.
Kashiwa Reysol 5, Tokushima Vortis 1
Don’t look now, but Reysol are on fire. Hiroto Goya scored their first and last goals in this one to continue his brilliant run of form, while Ataru Esaka, Keiya Shiihashi and Hayato Nakama all got on the scoresheet too in a dominant victory over Vortis. Reysol have now won three straight, the longest win streak in the league, and are up to 12th in the table.
Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo 2, Vegalta Sendai 1
Vegalta came out of the gates flying, nearly scoring in the opening minutes—only to be denied by a flying block and a spectacular Takanori Sugeno save. They were not to be denied, however, and Chihiro Kato found the back of the net in the 16th minute to give the visitors a deserved lead. Kato nearly added a second at the half hour mark, but his curler hit the post and Vegalta went into the break with a one-goal lead. That proved to be a problem because Consa were excellent in the second half. Chanathip Songkrasin was a terror in the midfield and, in the 54th minute, it was his interception, long run and beautiful through ball that put Tsuyoshi Ogashiwa in on goal for the equalizer. Two minutes from time, Jay Bothroyd lept high to meet a corner kick and headed in the winner, flipping the match from Vegalta’s bright opening and earning Consadole a win with a brilliant second half showing.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1, Avispa Fukuoka 2
Sanfrecce had all of the ball and almost all of the shots, but they didn’t have Hiroyuki Mae. After trading early goals with Fukuoka, Sanfrecce took it to the visitors. They spent most of the match in the Fukuoka half and more than doubled the shots from Fukuoka, but, in the end, only one shot mattered - Mae’s. A cross by Fukuoka was headed clear by Sanfrecce, but only as far as Mae, who was waiting 20 yards from goal. The midfielder didn’t bother bringing it down or resetting the attack; instead he took one swing at it with his left foot and hit a magnificent volley that found the back of the net and delivered Fukuoka the victory. Sometimes, the match comes down to one moment of magic, and on Saturday that was Mae’s.
Kashima Antlers 1, Vissel Kobe 1
Pressure, turnovers and transition were the story of this one as both teams tried to possess the ball and move it forward, but were repeatedly undone by the other’s excellent pressure and good transition play to create chances. The two sides spent most of the first half trading good counterattacks before Ayub Timbe Masika played Kyogo Furuhashi in alone on goal and the forward finished to give Vissel the lead. The second half looked much like the first, but Ayase Ueda was the man to break through, leveling the match and ensuring a well-deserved point for both Kashima and Vissel.
Shimizu S-Pulse 1, Shonan Bellmare 1
S-Pulse looked excellent in the early going as they put Shonan on the back foot straight from the opening kick, but they couldn’t make it pay off. Between their inaccurate shooting and Bellmare goalkeeper Kosei Tani's heroics, the match went into the 60th minute still scoreless. On the hour, though, S-Pulse were one up via a Thiago Santana header, which found the back of the net and gave the men in orange the lead they absolutely deserved. The one-way traffic continued after the goal, but S-Pulse continued to miss chances. That would open the door for Bellmare, who took advantage through Wellington in the 88th minute. The big Brazilian recorded just the second shot on goal for Shonan all match, but this one found the net—a bullet header that stole a point for Shonan against a heartbroken S-Pulse.