No change at the top of the table, nor the bottom, but plenty of excitement and great goals in Sunday’s J2 games.

In the big game of the day, Vissel Kobe retained top spot after beating Montedio Yamagata at the Noevir Stadium. Vissel had plenty of chances as they dominated for much of the game, Mazinho, Popo and Tashiro were all denied, but it took a super strike from Ryo Okui to breach the Yamagata rearguard. The ball fell to the young defender around the edge of the area and he hit a powerful drive which clipped the underside of the bar before nestling in the back of the net. The game was soured somewhat for Vissel as Popo, so influential for the club so far this season, was sent off after a dangerous, studs-in-the-air lunge on Kohei Higa. While he didn’t make a whole lot of contact with the Yamagata player it was a rash and potentially dangerous tackle. Kobe, and presumably Popo himself, will be very disappointed as the challenge occurred in a ‘nothing’ area of the pitch, and it was an unnecessary one to make.

Fagiano Okayama are up to second after a thrilling victory against Consadole Sapporo at Kanko Stadium. The home side took the lead after 16 minutes when in-form striker Tomoyuki Arata lashed in a sumptuous half volley into the top corner from 25 yards out. The host were stunned however when Yoshihoro Uchimura scored twice in 5 second half minutes to give Consa the lead. Firstly he bundled home after a cross from the right caused chaos in Fagiano area, and then he latched on to a long pass from Uesato before hammering the ball past Nakabayashi. Suddenly Okayama, from seemingly cruising, found themselves behind but responded immediately when Soichi Tanaka reacted quickest to Arata’s blocked shot and nodded home. It was the young midfielders first professional goal. Fagiano got the winner 6 minutes from time when Tadashi Takeda found himself in the right place at the right time after a bit of pinball in the Consadole area. A hard fought win for Okayama, but a result that leaves Sapporo looking nervously over their shoulder.

Gamba Osaka and Tokyo Verdy somehow played out a nil-nil draw at Banpaku, although it wasn’t your standard, boring goalless affair. Both sides created plenty of chances – Leandro & Kurata coming close for Gamba with Takahara hitting the crossbar for Verdy. The result means both teams have drawn 5 of their 7 games so far. JEF United followed up last week’s annihilation of Kitakyushu with a win in their Kanto derby against Thespa Kusatsu Gunma. Kempes had missed a re-taken penalty before his strike partner Jair headed the away side in front. Kempes atoned for his earlier penalty missed when he was on hand to tap in after good work from Tanaka down the right hand side. JEF up to third and their Brazilians starting to click up top.

Matsumoto Yamaga continued their fine away form as they won at the K’s Denki stadium against Mito Hollyhock. Yamaga took an early lead when striker Takayuki Funayama found a little space in the Mito box to head home a cross from the right. Mito equalized through a stunning Koji Hashimoto free kick which arced beautifully into the top corner. Matsumoto got what turned out to be the winner after 32 minutes as Nagasawa’s clever through ball released Shunsuke Iwanuma and he slid the ball past ‘keeper Kasahara despite the tight presence of a Mito defender.

Gainare Tottori and Avispa Fukuoka played out a nil-nil draw in difficult and windy conditions at Torigin Stadium. Both sides created few chances. Fukuoka forward Hisashi Jogo pushed a shot wide of the Tottori  goal in the second half, while Gainare striker Takahiko Sumida hit the post. Five minutes form time Yudai Tanaka smacked a vicious 30 yarder that cannoned off the crossbar and so the match ended scoreless. In another game played in beastly conditions, Kataller Toyama fell out of the top six as they were beaten by an injury time goal by Tochigi SC. Kataller took a first half lead when Yohei Onishi got on the end of Funatsu’s long cross to slide the ball home. Kataller should have doubled their lead in the 49th minute when Daisuke Asahi’s perfect cross was met by Yudai Nishikawa but he smashed the ball against the bar when it looked easier to score. Kataller were left to rue that chance when defender Cha Yong-Hwan headed in from Kikuoka’s corner, although Toyama ‘keeper Morita will be very disappointed he let the ball through his grasp. Tochigi got the win they ultimately deserved when substitute Alex Santos found himself in a good position at the back post to turn in Cristiano’s cross. It was Santos’ first goal for 6 years!

FC Gifu failed to score for the 7th game in a row as they succumbed to a 3-0 home defeat to Kyoto Sanga. Kyoto won through three second half goals: the first from Mitsuhira (which Gifu ‘keeper Shogo Tokihisa really should have kept out) and then a brace from Kazuki Hara. The result leaves Gifu stranded at the bottom. Talking about teams that failed to score, Yokohama FC and Roasso Kumamoto ended scoreless at Mitsuzawa, although Yokohama did have good chances to win the game.  Giravanz Kitakyushu earned a much needed win as they beat Ehime FC 1-0 at Honjo Stadium thanks to Koki Kotegawa’s goal. Giravanz rode their luck in a first half which saw Ehime spurn several chances to take the lead, and made them pay when Kotegawa’s sweetly struck half volley found the net.

Finally, V-Varen Nagasaki notched their first away in the J.League as they beat Tokushima Vortis in Naruto. Varen went ahead when Sai Kanakubo drove a 20 yarder into the top corner after Mizunaga’s lay-off, but Tokushima equalized in the second half when Kosei Shibasaki’s corner was unwittingly headed into his own net by…..you guessed it, Sai Kanakubo! Quite a day for the Nagasaki midfielder. The game looked to be heading for a draw but in the last minute of stoppage time Shouma Mizunaga scored his fourth of the season to give the visitors the win. Kohei Shimoda’s cross held up in the strong wind, and Mizunaga beat Vortis ‘keeper Matsui to the ball to head in.

J2 full results

  • FC Gifu 0-3 Kyoto Sanga
  • Gainare Tottori 0-0 Avispa Fukuoka
  • Gamba Osaka 0-0 Tokyo Verdy
  • Thespa Kusatsu Gunma 0-2 JEF United
  • Vissel Kobe 1-0 Montedio Yamagata
  • Giravanz Kitakyushu 1-0 Ehime FC
  • Yokohama FC 0-0 Roasso Kumamoto
  • Tokushima Vortis 1-2 V-Varen Nagasaki
  • Mito Hollyhock 1-2 Matsumoto Yamaga
  • Fagiano Okayama 3-2 Consadole Sapporo
  • Kataller Toyama 1-2 Tochigi SC
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