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The capital city club have remained unbeaten since their Asian Champions League campaign began, joining Vegalta Sendai at the top of the table as a clearer picture emerges

ANALYSIS
By Dan Orlowitz

Results

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

THE WEEKEND STORY

In a battle between two dark horse contenders who started their seasons undefeated, enfant terrible FC Tokyo travelled west to face Vissel Kobe in what would become a wild back-and-forth match at Kobe Wing Stadium.

With pollen season approaching in Japan, Vissel players such as Yoshito Okubo appeared allergic to the goal in wasting several big opportunities. While FC Tokyo spent much of the first half defending, they capitalised in the 33rd minute when Lucas crossed the ball to an unmarked Naohiro Ishikawa who calmly made it 1-0. It got worse for the hosts, despite Aria Jasuru Hasegawa's red card, as Kazuma Watanabe's breakaway goal sealed the result and was a bitter coda for a Vissel squad that had all the opportunities in the world, but utterly failed to take advantage of them.

Meanwhile, Vegalta Sendai maintained their 100 per cent start to the season, coming from behind to defeat Omiya Ardija 4-1, while Gamba Osaka's woes continued after a 2-1 home loss to Jubilo Iwata on Sunday.

THE STANDINGS | Top Four

  P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Vegalta Sendai 3 3 0
0
7
1 +6 9
2
FC Tokyo 3
3 0
0
6
2
+4 9
3
Jubilo Iwata
3
2 1
0
4
2
+2 7
4
Cerezo Osaka
3
2 1
0
3
1
+2 7

PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND

Tatsuya Masushima

Kashiwa Reysol

After a bruising affair on both sides, the 26-year-old engineered a late comeback for the defending champions with goals in the 81st and 86th minutes. Both of Masushima's goals came from free kicks, and while the first simply required the stuffing of a loose ball into the net, the second was one of the best headers so far this season.

QUOTES OF THE WEEKEND

"[Masato] Morishige looked like he was getting kicked by Bruce Lee every time he went in to defend."
-FC Tokyo manager Ranko Popovic on alleged rough play by Vissel Kobe.

"I have faith in [Carlos Jose] Serrao. Creating something new like this does not come without difficulties."
-Gamba Osaka president Kikuo Kanamori on whether Serrao's job is at stake following the team's fifth straight loss this season

"I saw that Yoshikatsu [Kawaguchi] was working really hard every day, and he's the most disappointed out of any of us, but I'm disappointed too. I wanted to send him some sort of message."
-Jubilo Iwata striker Ryoichi Maeda, who held up the injured goalkeeper's uniform to the crowd after scoring in Jubilo's 2-1 win over Gamba Osaka

THE NUMBERS

3 - Players who scored doubles this weekend (Vegalta Sendai's Yoshiaki Ota, Urawa Reds' Yosuke Kashiwagi, and Kashiwa Reysol's Tatsuya Masushima)
1 - The only match without yellow cards was Grampus' 2-1 win over Albirex Niigata
5 - Number of teams still without a win this season (Consadole Sapporo, Yokohama F. Marinos, Gamba Osaka, Albirex Niigata, Kashima Antlers)
4760 - Number of days between Sagan Tosu's first J2 match (March 14 1999) and first J1 win (March 24, 2012)
20,192 - Attendance at the Sapporo Dome for Consadole-Reds; the only match this weekend to crack 20,000

Feeling Superstitious: Since 2007, Ryoichi Maeda has 'cursed' several teams with his first goal of the season: Ventforet Kofu (2007), Tokyo Verdy (2008), JEF Chiba United (2009), Kyoto Sanga (2010), and Montedio Yamagata (2011) were all relegated after giving up the Japan international's first point of the year. He opened up his 2012 account against Gamba Osaka on Sunday night.

PHOTO OF THE WEEKEND
Too Weak | Gamba Osaka fans protest their team's poor form before the match

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