Kashima Antlers remain top of the J. League after thrashing Tokyo Verdy 4-1 in front of 21,437 fans at Kashima Stadium.

Shinzo Koroki kicked off a routine victory for the defending champions, before Daiki Iwamasa powered home a header just before the break to hand the Antlers a commanding two-goal lead. Second half strikes from Marquinhos and substitute Takuya Nozawa completed the rout, although Verdy’s Diego did manage to conjure a late consolation strike for the capital outfit.


A bumper crowd of 37,154 turned out at Ajinomoto Stadium, however the home fans went home disappointed as Urawa Reds stole the points from Link Judi Online24Jam hosts FC Tokyo. After Naohiro Takahara – twice – and Tatsuya Tanaka had hit the woodwork, midfielder Takahito Soma showed his strikers how it’s done, beating the offside trap before volleying home in front of the travelling Reds army.


High flying Oita Trinita continued their excellent run of form, as new signing Yasuhito Morishima scored his first goal for the club courtesy of some calamitous defending from hosts Albirex Niigata, who succumbed 1-0 in front of 38,781 fans at a steamy Big Swan Stadium.


In the pick of the Sunday action Shimizu S-Pulse were held to a 1-1 home draw by Yokohama F. Marinos at a packed Nihondaira Stadium, with both teams eager to clamber away from the relegation zone.


Standing room only at a packed Nihondaira Stadium

Marinos veteran Yuji Nakazawa opened the scoring with a textbook header from a corner, however S-Pulse responded with an almost carbon-copy of that goal just seconds after the restart, as defender Keisuke Iwashita stooped to head home Akihiro Hyodo’s in-swinging corner.


The visitors thought they had won it when Daisuke Sakata appeared to beat the offside trap and fire home with six minutes remaining, however his effort was ruled out for offside.


Just four points separates leaders Kashima Antlers from fifth placed Kawasaki Frontale, with upwards of seven clubs still in the reckoning for the title. At the other end Consadole Sapporo have slipped into bottom place after JEF United recorded a 1-1 draw away at Kashiwa Reysol in the Chiba derby, with United now second-from-bottom and Yokohama F. Marinos occupying the promotion/relegation playoff place.


In J2 the pick of the action saw two teams relegated from the top flight last season clash at Kose Sports Park, with Ventforet Kofu prevailing 2-0 over league leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima thanks to goals from veteran midfielder Kentaro Hayashi and defender Arata Sugiyama, much to the delight of the 12,120 fans packed into Kofu’s rustic home ground.


In Sendai 17,537 fans turned out at a wet Yurtec Stadium, but the home fans left disappointed as surprise package Montedio Yamagata triumphed 1-0 thanks to Japan Olympian Yohei Toyoda’s late strike.


Sanfrecce Hiroshima lead the way in J2 from Montedio Yamagata, with Sagan Tosu currently occupying the promotion/relegation playoff place in third – with former J1 teams Shonan Bellmare, Cerezo Osaka and Vegalta Sendai a further four points back in the standings.


  1. League and Ekstraklasa swap referees


Polish referee Marcin Borski was in charge of the recent clash between FC Tokyo and Urawa Reds at Ajinomoto Stadium, with the J. League participating in a referee exchange with Poland’s Ekstraklasa.


Going the other way is J. League referee Yuichi Nishimura, who landed himself in hot water earlier this season for allegedly telling Oita Trinita defender Taikai Uemoto “to die” during a match with FC Tokyo – an allegation that Nishimura, a full FIFA international referee, denies.


The J. League has been plagued by questionable officiating in recent seasons, with Danish referee Nicolai Vollquartz called in to referee the clash between Jubilo Iwata and Urawa Reds at Ecopa Stadium last year.


Japan bow out of Olympics


Japan ended a disastrous campaign at the Beijing Olympics with three straight losses. After losing their opener 1-0 to the United States, Japan subsequently went down 2-1 to Nigeria and 1-0 to the Netherlands, as Yasuharu Sorimachi’s much-vaunted team failed to pick up a single point in the tournament.


Finishing was Japan’s achilles’ heel, with only Yohei Toyoda of J2 outfit Montedio Yamagata managing to find the net. Injuries and suspension also played their part, with dynamic full-backs Atsuto Uchida and Michihiro Yasuda both failing to finish the tournament, while Shimizu S-Pulse midfielder Takuya Honda was suspended for Japan’s final group stage game.


Far better has been the form of Nadeshiko Japan, with the women progressing to the semi-finals after knocking out arch-rivals China in their quarter-final thanks to goals from veteran Homare Sawa and striker Yuki Nagasato.