With four games remaining until the mid-season break, Gamba Osaka have opened up a seven point gap over nearest rivals Urawa Reds.
Gamba’s last match was a case of top versus bottom, but they had a tough time against Yokohama FC, eventually winning 2-1 in front of a near-capacity crowd of 19,752 fans at Expo ’70 Stadium in Osaka.
Kawasaki Frontale lost ground when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Nagoya Grampus Eight in front of 21,190 fans at Toyota Stadium. Veteran midfielder Toshiya Fujita opened the scoring for Nagoya from the penalty spot less than sixty seconds into the match, before Juninho equalised for the visitors after twenty-two minutes. Norwegian international Frode Johnsen restored Nagoya’s lead after sixty-five minutes, but just two minutes later young Korean substitute Chong Te-se ensured that Kawasaki went home with a share of the spoils.
Albirex Niigata were the big movers, coming from behind to beat Vissel Kobe 3-1 in front of 38,667 fans at Big Swan Stadium and moving up to fourth place in the J-League as a result. They leapfrogged Kashiwa Reysol, who were held to a 0-0 draw by Omiya Ardija at Kashiwanoha Stadium. That was Omiya’s fifth match unbeaten – although they have only won once during that run – a 1-0 win over bottom club Yokohama FC.
Oita Trinita pulled off a coup recently by announcing that they had re-signed talented midfielder Tsukasa Umesaki from Grenoble, as well as young Sanfrecce …