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The end of the J-League's Golden Week Sprint was again marked by inclement weather after some matches in eastern Japan were delayed by thunder, lightning and even hail

ANALYSIS
By Dan Orlowitz

Results

Vegalta Sendai 0-1 Shimizu S-Pulse, Yokohama F. Marinos 2-1 Consadole Sapporo, Cerezo Osaka 1-2 Vissel Kobe, Kashiwa Reysol 2-5 Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Jubilo Iwata 2-2 Urawa Reds, Omiya Ardija 1-0 Gamba Osaka, Nagoya Grampus 2-3 Kawasaki Frontale, Kashima Antlers 0-0 Sagan Tosu, Albirex Niigata 0-2 FC Tokyo

THE WEEKEND STORIES

Leaders Vegalta Sendai couldn't extend their unbeaten streak to 10 matches after falling to short-handed Shimizu S-Pulse. For the second time this week, the visitors pulled off a 1-0 win despite seeing one of their players (this time Calvin Jong-a-Pin) ejected. The match was delayed for approximately 40 minutes after hail fell on the pitch, prompting the officials to send the players back to the locker rooms until the storm passed.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima also pushed further up the table, dismantling Kashiwa Reysol on the road. The match was tied at 2-2 heading into the final five minutes, but a late three-goal rush by the Purple Archers left the reigning champions in 15th place with just two wins out of nine matches.

At Toyota Stadium, the return of Australian striker Joshua Kennedy wasn't enough to give Nagoya Grampus a win as they fell 3-2 to Kawasaki Frontale. Kennedy scored an early goal but was taken off at half-time.

In the late match, FC Tokyo broke their three-game losing streak with a 2-0 win at Albirex Niigata. The goals from Yohei Kajiyama and Tatsuya Yazawa made it the team's first multi-goal effort since May 24.

THE STANDINGS | Top Four

  P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Vegalta Sendai 10 7 2 1 20 8 +12 23
2 Shimizu S-Pulse 10 7 0 3 14 9 +5 21
3 S. Hiroshima 10 6 1 3 19 9 +10 19
4 Urawa Reds 10 5 2 3 14 11 +3 17

PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND

Kenta Mukuhara

FC Tokyo

Having fought his way back onto the starting lineup, the 22-year-old's momentum lasted throughout the entire match as he frequently created chances up the flanks for Tokyo in their 2-0 win over Albirex Niigata. He was instrumental in starting the sequences that led to Tokyo's goals and snapping their three-match losing streak.
QUOTES OF THE WEEKEND

"If you compare it to our other matches we did well, but we still lost today."
-Gamba Osaka defender Yasuyuki Konno

"To be honest, we're becoming really good at playing short-handed."
-Shimizu S-Pulse manager Afshin Ghotbi following the team's 1-0 win at Vegalta with just 10 players

"It's our place at the end of the season that matters, so what's important is that we don't get caught up in today's table and keep playing."
-Vegalta Sendai's Kunimitsu Sekiguchi following the team's first loss of the season

THE NUMBERS

October 19 2009 -
The last time that Nagoya lost two matches in a row before this weekend
Victory or Defeat -
Three teams (S-Pulse, FC Tokyo, and Vissel Kobe) have yet to record a draw this season
Home sweet home - Ardija's win against Gamba Osaka was their third straight home win in a row; the first time they've recorded such a result since moving to Omiya Stadium
Good behavior - Ardija and Frontale have each accumulated just nine yellow cards; fewest in the league. Seven other teams have yet to see red cards after 10 matches.

PHOTO OF THE WEEKEND

Dark omens | A storm system moves over Kashiwa Stadium during the Reysol-Sanfrecce match

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