My report from Kashima today, where a Hitoshi Sogahata clanger gifted Urawa Reds a 2-1 win against Kashima Antlers
KASHIMA – A howler from goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata dealt Kashima Antlers a setback in its bid for the J.League second stage title on Saturday, as he gifted Urawa Reds a 2-1 come-from-behind victory at Kashima Stadium.
Antlers had taken the lead in only the third minute through Yasushi Endo, but Toshiyuki Takagi pulled Reds level just three minutes later.
Sogahata then gifted Reds the three points in the 72nd minute, dropping a routine catch at the feet of Shinzo Koroki, who swept home the winner.
“It was a difficult game and I’m pleased that I got a lucky chance to score,” former Antlers striker Koroki said post-match.
“Each year coming to this stadium I feel that I struggle to show my best performance, and there was a sense of that today, too. However, I’m very pleased that we were able to get the win.”
The victory ensured that Reds stay top of the overall season rankings with five games to play, and also lifted them to third in the second stage table, five points adrift of leader Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
Kashima is now 17 points off the top in the combined table and lies three points behind Sanfrecce in the second stage.
The seven-time J.League champion had won seven of its last eight games coming into this match, and tore out of the traps in front of 29,030 raucous fans in Ibaraki.
After just three minutes Caio found himself in space on the left wing, made his way into the penalty area, and cut back for Endo to drill firmly into the top right corner of Shusaku Nishikawa’s goal.
The host wasn’t ahead for very long, though, and just three minutes later Reds pulled level.
The build-up was similar to that for Antlers’ opener, with some nice interplay setting Tomoya Ugajin free on the left-hand side of the Antlers penalty area. Once in space the 27-year-old squared calmly to gift Takagi the easiest of tap-ins.
For the rest of the half Antlers dominated proceedings, and Masatada Ishii’s side could have gone in ahead at the break if Mu Kanazaki hadn’t been foiled by Nishikawa in a one-on-one at the end of the first half.
Kanazaki, who caused Reds problems throughout the 90 minutes, was ruing his accuracy in front of goal in the 58th minute as well, hammering a header onto the crossbar from close range after a Gaku Shibasaki free-kick.
Substitute Zlatan Ljubijankic fired a warning to show that Reds were still in the game a couple of minutes later, but his snapshot flew wide of Sogahata’s near post.
The veteran keeper wasn’t so lucky 12 minutes later, however, as he fumbled an Ugajin cross into the path of his former teammate Koroki to cost his side the match.
The defeat for Antlers enabled Sanfrecce Hiroshima to extend its lead at the top of the second stage table after a routine 5-1 win over hapless Shimizu S-Pulse.
Douglas and Hiroki Mizumoto both scored in the first half for Hiroshima, and although Chong Tese pulled one back for Shimizu just past the hour, Takuma Asano grabbed goals in the 75th and 80th minutes before Yoshifumi Kashiwa wrapped things up in stoppage time.