J-League Review: Vegalta take league lead with sweeping win over Cerezo

Roaring winds and driving rain across eastern Japan lead to several surprising results, reminding observers that as always there's no such thing as a sure leader in the J-League
ANALYSIS
By Dan Orlowitz

Results

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

THE WEEKEND STORY

The nearly 10,000 fans that braved the rain at Osaka's Nagai Stadium were in for a treat, with Cerezo hosting high-flying Vegalta Sendai. Both teams had surrendered just one goal going into this weekend, but the home team found themselves at a disadvantage after having to give two defenders, Tatsuya Yamashita and Masato Kurogi, their first start of the season.

Cerezo's first solid chance came in the 16th minute when Hiroshi Kiyotake's volley deflected off a defender before hitting the crossbar. Vegalta responded minutes later as Yoshiaki Ota forced a fine save by Kim Jin-Hyon.

The visitors finally broke the deadlock in the 34th minute on the counter when Brazilian attacker Wilson stuffed in a rebound for his first J1 goal.

Cerezo attempted to spur on a second-half comeback by bringing on super-sub Ryuji Bando and switching to two upfront. But Vegalta doubled their lead after Ota again broke down the opposition, sending a cross past Kim to a waiting Shingo Akamine who headed the ball in.

The hosts pressed the attack and Bando even took back a late goal to make it 2-1, but despite five minutes of extra time Vegalta's defence did not falter and the northern club would end the day alone at the top of the league table.

THE STANDINGS | Top Four

  P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Vegalta Sendai 4
4 0
0
9
2 +7 12
2
Jubilo Iwata 4
3 1
0
5
2
+3 10
3
FC Tokyo 4
3 0
1
6
3
+3 9
4
Sanfrecce Hiroshima
4
3 0
1
5
2
+3 9

PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND

Yohei Toyoda

Sagan Tosu

After scoring 23 goals in the second division last year, the striker appears ready to make his mark on J1. Toyoda didn't just score the second goal in Sagan's surprising 3-0 victory over Vissel, but also put a scare into his opponents by contributing strong defending in the shutout.
QUOTES OF THE WEEKEND

"Despite changing managers and systems, the players fought well. We may have only earned one point, but as far as I'm concerned it was worth three."
-Gamba Osaka manager Masanobu Matsunami after his first match in charge

"Until we can play with our best players, we may have to be patient."
-Yokohama F. Marinos captain Shunsuke Nakamura after his team's winless streak reached four matches following a scoreless draw with Kashima Antlers

"When a big club like Real Madrid or Barcelona loses their central players, they play a different style of football, but we're not that kind of club. I want us to play the same even when we're missing players."
-FC Tokyo manager Ranko Popovic after the team's 1-0 loss to Sanfrecce Hiroshima, their first defeat of the season

THE NUMBERS

0 - After four matches, Kashima Antlers are the only team in the league yet to score a goal
4 - Number of matches that failed to draw 10,000 fans
7 - Number of combined shots in S-Pulse's win against Consadole; the fewest total on Saturday
21 - Number of shots Kawasaki Frontale took against an Urawa Reds team that finished the match with nine players; the match ended deadlocked at one goal apiece
100 - Fastest observed wind speed (in kilometres/hour) in downtown Tokyo on Saturday

PHOTO OF THE WEEKEND
Look before you leap | Frontale's Koji Yamase avoids Reds defender Keisuke Tsuboi's tackle

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