J-League Review: Short-handed FC Tokyo triumph with last-minute goal in Tamagawa Classico

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By Dan Orlowitz


Consadole Sapporo 0-2 Kashiwa Reysol, Vegalta Sendai 2-2 Jubilo Iwata, Nagoya Grampus 1-0 Sagan Tosu, Vissel Kobe 0-1 Shimizu S-Pulse, Albirex Niigata 0-0 Yokohama F. Marinos, Omiya Ardija 0-3 Cerezo Osaka, Kashima Antlers 1-3 Urawa Reds, Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4-1 Gamba Osaka, Kawasaki Frontale 0-1 FC Tokyo


Over 20,000 supporters at Todoroki Stadium celebrated not only the late arrival of Japan's famous cherry blossoms to the Kanto area, but also the renewal of the rivalry between hosts Kawasaki Frontale and visiting FC Tokyo known as the Tamagawa Classico.

Tokyo, fresh off their 1-1 draw at Beijing Guoan in ACL play, took the early initiative with Naohiro Ishikawa repeatedly breaking through the Frontale back line. Some fine work upfront saw Naotake Hanyu find Tatsuya Yazawa with an exquisite pass, and the 27-year-old forced an impressive save by Yohei Nishibe.

Unable to string together meaningful attacks well until the half-hour mark, Frontale finally began to build momentum of their own, as forwards Tashiro Yajima and Renato started to see more of the ball and made their presence felt. With support from Yu Kobayashi and Kengo Nakamura, the hosts pressed hard but failed to open the scoring by half-time.

The second half began controversially when Arija Jasuru Hasegawa saw a second caution after taking an ill-considered lunge at Nakamura. The midfielder's second red card of the year meant Tokyo would spend nearly 50 minutes short-handed. This resulted in several wasted chances by Frontale as goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda was doing his best to frustrate the hosts.

But while Tokyo pressured with occasional counter-attacking runs, their big chance came in the 88th minute when Masato Morishige met Ishikawa's corner kick for a header which Nishibe could not reach, sending the away stand into a frenzy. Frontale were unable to make anything out of six minutes worth of additional time as Tokyo won their first league Classico since 2008.


  P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Vegalta Sendai 5
4 1
4 +7 13
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 5
+6 12
FC Tokyo
+4 12
Jubilo Iwata

0 7
+3 11


Masato Morishige

FC Tokyo

Once known as a troublemaker for frequent rough play, the 24-year-old has matured to become a leader of Tokyo's defence. Down a man for nearly the entire second half, Morishige not only helped his team to a clean sheet, but scored the winner in a dramatic fashion to earn Goal.com Japan's only 7.5 rating.


"This is the last thing I'll say about the refereeing. We're absolutely not asking them to favour us. We only want to hear a fair whistle."
-Kashima Antlers manager Jorginho after his team went winless for a fifth game in a row

"Last night Kentaro Maeda set an amazing record, so I thought that Carp's good form would rub off on us."
-Sanfrecce Hiroshima striker Hisato Sato, comparing his 100th J1 goal to the no-hitter achieved by pitcher Maeda of Japanese professional baseball team Hiroshima Carp on Friday night

"I think [Sagan Tosu] are a great team. They move well and play consistently as a team. But obviously we can't let a newly-promoted team overtake us like we did with Reysol last year."
-Nagoya Grampus attacker Keiji Tamada on his team's narrow victory against newcomers Sagan


5 - Number of J1 teams without a win after five rounds
7 - Number of combined shots in S-Pulse's win against Consadole; the fewest total on Saturday
135 - Number of days since Kashima Antlers' last league win
615 - Number of days between Vegalta Sendai midfielder Kunimitsu Sekiguchi's Saturday goal and his previous goal (v Frontale on August 1 2010)
20,996 - Attendance for Frontale-Tokyo; the ninth straight match in the rivalry with over 20,000 in the stands


Roar of champions | Lucas and Morishige celebrate the latter's game-winning header

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