Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Japanese Soccer News Gamba's Golden Week

Japanese Soccer News Gamba's Golden Week.
J-League News: Gamba's week golden, as they still top the table

May 3
It was a tale of two weather fronts, as Golden Week came to an end in Japan with two contrasting rounds of matches.

Thursday, May 3 was Constitution Memorial Day in Japan and fans responded to the public holiday by filling J-League stadiums across the country.

16,279 fans packed into Kose Sports Park in Kofu, and the majority of them went home delighted with Ventforet Kofu's 1-0 win over struggling Yokohama FC. Defender Tatsuya Masushima scored the only goal of the game, to send Kofu well clear of the relegation zone.

At Saitama Stadium, 57,440 fans turned out to witness Urawa Reds take on JEF United. The match marked the first time that former JEF United fan-favourite Yuki Abe had taken on his former club, but the shares were spoiled in this game, as Hiroki Mizumoto cancelled out an early Washington strike, with the end result a 1-1 draw.

FC Tokyo lost again, to the chagrin of many of the 30,436 fans that turned out at Ajinomoto Stadium. Costa Rican World Cup star Paulo Wanchope gave Tokyo the lead in the fifty-seventh minute against Kashima Antlers, but the club from the capital soon crumbled. Masaki Chugo and substitute Chikashi Masuda both scored for Kashima, to hand the Antlers a 2-1 win and ease the pressure on new coach Oswaldo de Oliveira.

In the Kansai derby, referee Yoshitsugu Katayama's controversial decision to send off Gamba Osaka's star striker Magno Alves after only eight minutes meant that Gamba had to play almost the entire match with only ten men, when they took on neighbours Vissel Kobe. Nevertheless 22,236 fans were still treated to an entertaining spectacle.

Japan international Yasuhito Endo opened the scoring for the visitors after sixteen minutes, but Kobe striker Yoshito Okubo equalised barely sixty seconds later. Kobe then took the lead through defender Hiroyuki Komoto just after the re-start, but Brazilian striker Bare levelled proceedings after sixty-four minutes, as the match ultimately ended in a 2-2 stalemate.

The Kanagawa derby saw Yokohama F. Marinos triumph 2-1 over Kawasaki Frontale, in front of 33,498 fans at Nissan Stadium. Yokohama took the lead after Hideo Oshima seized upon Yoshinobu Minowa's weak back-header, to fire F. Marinos into the lead after only four minutes. The mercurial Koji Yamase added a second for F. Marinos on sixty-six minutes, and Magnum's seventy-seventh minute goal proved nothing more than a late consolation for Kawasaki.


Shimizu vs Jubilo, Nihondaira, Shimizu fans
The final match of the round took place at a jam-packed Nihondaira Stadium in Shimizu, where 20,318 vociferous fans created a white-hot atmosphere for the first Shizuoka derby of the season.

Shimizu S-Pulse took the lead through their South Korean international Cho Jae-Jin, after he turned to fire home a cross from strike partner Shinji Okazaki.
Jubilo Iwata levelled when thirty-nine year old veteran Masashi Nakayama stayed the coolest man on the pitch to drill a spot-kick passed Yohei Nishibe, after young Shimizu defender Naoki Aoyama was adjudged to have hauled down Jubilo midfielder Sho Naruoka in the box.

Shimizu vs Jubilo, Nihondaira, Nakayama penalty
Shimizu had the last laugh, however, when Cho Jae-Jin converted Daisuke Ichikawa's right-wing cross with a spectacular flying volley, to wrap up a 2-1 win to Shimizu and send the Jubilo fans home disappointed.

Shimizu vs Jubilo, Nihondaira, Jubilo flag
May 6

Another full round of fixtures took place on Sunday, May 6 but driving rain sweeping across most of the country kept attendances down and ensured difficult conditions for the players.

There was a controversial clash at the Kyushu Oil Dome, where home team Oita Trinita succumbed to a 2-1 loss to Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

The visitors opened the scoring after Oita's highly-rated keeper Shusaku Nishikawa could only parry a stinging long-range drive, and Japan striker Hisato Sato was on the spot to smash the rebound into the top corner of the goal.

Oita pulled themselves back into the match when substitute Mu Kanazaki stooped to head home, but the outcome of the game was shaped by Oita captain Takashi Miki's late lunge on Hiroshima striker Ueslei.

Although Miki's challenge was a rash one, it appeared as though Ueslei could have easily avoided it, but instead the Brazilian striker took a tumble in the box. Referee Kazuhisa Osada pointed to the spot and then strangely showed a second yellow card to Oita midfielder Yoshiaki Fujita.

Oita's protest that the referee had booked the wrong player fell on deaf ears and after the commotion had died down - fully three minutes after Hiroshima had been awarded the penalty, Ueslei stepped up to bury the spot-kick and send Hiroshima home with a contentious 2-1 win.

The rain didn't keep the fans away from either Expo '70 Stadium in Osaka or Big Swan Stadium in Niigata respectively. 18,223 fans packed into 'Banpaku' in Osaka to witness home team Gamba draw 1-1 with Shimizu S-Pulse - for whom on-loan Gamba midfielder Fernandinho scored a late equaliser.

In Niigata, 39,507 fans turned out to witness home team Albirex Niigata erase the disappointment of their recent 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Yokohama F. Marinos, by beating Ventforet Kofu 3-1. Kofu have a chance to avenge that loss immediately, when they host Albirex in the League Cup in midweek.

13,344 fans braved atrocious conditions at Kashima Stadium, where Kashima Antlers were held to a 1-1 draw by Yokohama F. Marinos, while the Tokai derby ended in a 1-0 win for Jubilo Iwata over Nagoya Grampus Eight, in front of 23,142 fans at Ecopa Stadium.

Kawasaki Frontale produced arguably the best performance of the day, hammering a hapless FC Tokyo 5-2 at a rain-soaked Todoroki Stadium. Masahiro Ohashi scored twice for Kawasaki, and further goals from Masaru Kurotsu, Kazuhiro Murakami and Juninho saw off a sorry Tokyo side, who could only respond through late consolation strikes to Lucas Severino and Naohiro Ishikawa.

Omiya Ardija's biggest gate of the season was ruined, as only 33,162 fans braved driving rain to watch the Saitama derby. Omiya were the better side on the day, but they could only manage a 1-1 draw against cross-town rivals Urawa - a result that leaves Omiya second-from-bottom on the table.

Yoshikatsu Kobayashi opened the scoring for the hosts, but Washington equalised for Urawa, and then threw a petulant fit of rage when he was denied a penalty late on.

The Chiba derby was also marred by rain, as 11,969 hardy fans braved the downpour to witness JEF United hold Kashiwa Reysol to a 1-1 draw. As so often this season, United only began to click after they had gone a goal behind. Tatsuya Yazawa opened the scoring for Kashiwa, only for Satoru Yamagishi to equalise midway through the second half.

J2

There was a change at the top of the J2 table, as Montedio Yamagata took advantage of two wins over lowly opposition to consign Consadole Sapporo to second place on goal difference.

19,033 fans turned out at Yurtec Stadium in Sendai on May 3, but they went home disappointed as Kyoto Sanga FC snatched a 1-0 win over hosts Vegalta.

The surprise result of the day undoubtedly took place at the National Stadium in Tokyo, where more than 9,000 fans were stunned as bottom club Mito Hollyhock smashed fallen giants Tokyo Verdy 5-1, to the embarrassment of Verdy coach - former Japan international Rui Ramos.

Verdy turned things around when they beat Kyoto Sanga FC 4-1 at Nishikyogoku Stadium in Kyoto on May 6. Although Consadole Sapporo beat Vegalta Sendai 1-0 in front of 12,070 fans at Atsubetsu Stadium in Sapporo, it was Yamagata who claimed top spot, courtesy of 2-1 and 1-0 wins, at home against Sagan Tosu and away at Ehime FC respectively.

After fourteen rounds, Yamagata and Sapporo are now locked on twenty-seven points at the top of J2. Avispa Fukuoka are in third, while Vegalta Sendai and Shonan Bellmare round out the top five. Former top flight clubs Kyoto Sanga FC, Tokyo Verdy and Cerezo Osaka are all struggling. Kyoto are in sixth, Tokyo seventh and Cerezo Osaka are in a lowly ninth place on the thirteen-team J2 table.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

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