There were goals galore at Todoroki Stadium on Sunday, as Kawasaki Frontale beat Gamba Osaka 5-3 in J1…
KAWASAKI – Kawasaki Frontale kept itself involved in the race for the J.League second stage title on Sunday, with a rollercoaster 5-3 win over Gamba Osaka.
Yoshito Okubo claimed a brace, and Kengo Nakamura, Yoshihiro Nakano, and Elsinho also got their names on the scoresheet, while a Patric double and Shu Kurata volley for Gamba made for a pulsating game at Todoroki Stadium.
“It looked like the players were having fun but that was a tough game to endure from the bench,” Kawasaki coach Yahiro Kazama said with a wry smile postmatch.
Hard work or not, the victory lifted his team to fifth, five points adrift of second stage leader Sanfrecce Hiroshima who Frontale take on next.
“Of course there are teams ahead of us, but we still have to play some of those,” Kazama said. “We will just keep aiming to score goals and win games and see what happens.”
There were suggestions ahead of kickoff that Gamba was feeling the effects of Wednesday’s visit to China – where it lost the first leg of its Asian Champions League semifinal 2-1 to Guangzhou Evergrande – and last year’s treble winner certainly started sluggishly, touching the ball just once before going a goal down.
Nakano drove at and beat Koki Yonekura with some fine wingplay to break into the left-hand side of the penalty area, before rolling the ball across goal for the waiting Okubo to tuck home at the back post with just one minute and 12 seconds on the clock.
The host continued to dominate possession for the bulk of the first half, but conceded against the run of play in the 43rd minute.
Yasuhito Endo sent in an inswinger from the left, and Kawasaki ‘keeper Shota Arai lost track of the flight of the ball and could only knock it into the path of former Kawasaki striker Patric, who gleefully slammed home.
Parity wasn’t restored for long, however, and in the third minute of first half stoppage time Nakamura reestablished Kawasaki’s lead with an absolute bullet of a strike from 25 meters that cannoned in off Masaaki Higashiguchi’s right-hand post.
Within 10 minutes of the restart Kawasaki moved two goals ahead.
Nakano once again demonstrated his twinkle toes, dancing inside the Gamba penalty area and beyond Yonekura before dispatching into the bottom corner of Higashiguchi’s net.
That blow appeared to have done for Gamba, but Kenta Hasegawa’s team persevered and was back on level terms by the 71st minute. First of all Patric claimed his second with a thumping header after 66 minutes, before substitute Kurata volleyed home a Yonekura cross.
Yonekura undid his good work shortly afterwards, though, conceding a penalty after a despairing lunge on Shintaro Kurumaya.
Okubo calmly converted the resultant spotkick – moving clear at the top of the J1 scoring charts with 21 goals for the season in the process – to put Kawasaki 4-3 ahead, then turned provider for Elsinho to wrap things up with eight minutes to go.
“I had missed my last penalty, and had also missed one in a training match,” Okubo told reporters after the game.
“There was never any doubt that I would take it though, and I’m delighted it went in.”