J2 never ceases to throw up surprises all over the shop.
I’ll get the biggest surprise out the way first. FC Gifu scored their first goals of the season as they came from behind to beat Matsumoto Yamaga. A fuller report can be found here.
At the top, Vissel Kobe dropped 2 points as they were held to a scoreless draw by Kataller Toyama. Both teams had chances, but goalkeepers Morita and Yamamoto were in fine form. Kataller came close to snatching the win, but Seo Yong Duk shot inches wide after a lay off from Yudai Nishikawa.
Gamba Osaka won in Tohoku as they underlined their title/promotion credentials with a 1-0 win against Montedio Yamagata. Brazilian forward Leandro had a couple of early sighters before Gamba took the lead via an unlikely source when Keisuke Iwashita ghosted in unmarked to head home Yasuhito Endo’s fine cross. On another day, Leandro could, and maybe should, have had 4 or 5 goals and his profligacy was nearly punished late on when Romero Franck slammed a volley against against the bar. Overall though, Gamba were good value for their win. The other top 6 battle finished surprisingly scoreless as JEF United and Fagiano Okayama drew at the FukuAri. Despite the likes of Kempes, Jair and Tomoyuki Arata being on show, none of them could find the mark.
V-Varen Nagasaki‘s debut J.League season just gets better and better as they moved up to fourth place after downing Roasso Kumamoto at home. The hosts went down to 10 men after 36 minutes when Kohei Shimoda was sent off for a head-butt, although replays showed there was minimal contact. The referee evened things up when he dismissed Roasso’s Hayato Nakama for a second booking just after half time. The hosts left it late to get on the scoresheet, with defender Ryouta Takasugi getting the winner with 5 minutes left. Takasugi slid in to at the far post to convert Kenta Furube’s inviting cross. In the other all Kyushu clash, Avispa Fukuoka beat Giravanz Kitakyushu 2-1 at the Level 5 stadium. A penalty from Daisuke Sakata and Jun Kanakubo’s cool volley sealed the win for Marian Pusnik’s men despite Giravanz pulling a goal back through Yuki Fuji’s excellent header.
Kyoto Sanga continued their hot and cold season by losing 1-0 at home to an out-of-form Yokohama FC. Tetsuya Okubo scored the only goal of the game after only 48 seconds, flicking in Nishijima’s cross from the left. It was a much needed win for Yokohama.
Mito Hollyhock snagged a surprising win against north Kanto rivals Tochigi SC thanks to Takayuki Suzuki’s bundled goal. Tochigi pressed for the equalizer in the second half, mainly through the thumping drives of Cristiano who hit the post with a free kick and forced a couple of fine saves.
Consadole Sapporo came from behind to beat Tokushima Vortis at home. Vortis took the lead (shortly after they had missed a penalty) through Ozaki as he lashed a half volley which gave the ‘keeper no chance, but the hosts struck back with two goals from corner kicks: the first from Brazilian defender Paulao and the winner from Uehara. Tokyo Verdy continued their recent renaissance by comfortably beating Gainare Tottori 3-0 at the AjiSta thanks to goals from Iio, Takahara and a first goal for Naoki Maeda, who went on to give an emotion post match interview.
Finally, Ehime FC weren’t put off by a thunderstorm delay as they beat Thespa Kusatsu Gunma 2-0 at the currently-being-redeveloped Ningeer stadium thanks to two second goals from Kawahara and Ishii, his 3rd of the season.