Albirex Niigata Ladies 1 - 3 INAC Kobe Leonessa
(Attendance: 3, 146)
Following INAC's leading scorer Kyokawa Mai's knee ligament injury, Nakajima Emi started in the central striker position, while for Niigata Yamamoto Arina made her first start following a substitute appearance last week, and Saito Yuri was recalled to the starting lineup.
In only the second minute, INAC had their first chance. Following a distinct lack of conviction in the Niigata defence the ball fell to Kawasumi whose shot hit the crossbar. Thereafter Niigata asserted themselves and had one or two good chances of their own as they caused the hesitant INAC defence more early problems than they have had to face in their previous matches.
From almost nothing, and with Niigata having had most of the play, INAC had the lead after 15 minutes. Ohno Shinobu got her fourth of the season following another wonderful one-two, this time with Takase, which set her free to score relatively easily. Kawasumi had a difficult chance to make it 2-0 after 17 minutes but could only volley wide. She had found herself in a lot of space which will have alarmed the Niigata manager.
On 20 minutes Takase made it 2-0 after a long ball from Ohno was very poorly dealt with by Kitahara. The defender seemed to be in two minds as to what to do with the ball and Takase simply bullied her off it to calmly slot the ball home.
Thereafter Niigata looked to get their forwards into positions where they could run in on goal from long balls, while INAC mixed it up with their midfielders coming forward to support the forwards, working the ball wide and also through the middle, though there wasn't much in the way of goalmouth action.
It was another terrible mistake by the Niigata defence which led to the third INAC goal in the 39th minute. Yamamoto gave a very poor pass which was easily intercepted by Takase. She gave the ball inside to Nakajima Emi who fed the onrushing Ohno who turned inside, avoiding the sliding tackle by Kawamura, and placed the ball in the bottom left hand corner.
So at half-time having only had four shots at goal INAC had a three goal lead and their domination at the top of the league table was looking set to continue.
Neither team made a change at half-time. In the 51st minute a long ball from Kinga found Kawasumi free, the ever-lively winger took the ball around the keeper only for her shot to hit the post and go wide.
At the other end a lazy pass from Tanaka gave the ball straight back to Niigata who had their first chance of the second half, but they were unable to score and from the corner kick the ball ended up at the other end with Ohno given a chance to complete her hat-trick, but the keeper did well and the chance was lost. By this stage of the game the play was opening up with space developing for the wide players. In the 56th minute Kinga gave a long ball to Ohno down the right which she just kept in and from her cross Sawa was just denied by the keeper.
Kawasumi had a good chance that was blocked by Otomo in the Niigata goal after the keeper had been hurried into taking a clearance kick by Nakajima. INAC weren't entirely comfortable at the back either, with their defenders being repeatedly dispossessed and hurried into inaccurate passes by the Niigata players.
In the 65th minute Niigata made a double substitution, Kodama and Hirai coming on for the visibly tired Saito and Kubota. Not long after Nakajima made way for Minamiyama up front for INAC.
Entering the last twenty minutes it was clear that INAC were happy with their three goal lead and starting to play in a more relaxed way. Niigata continued with their tactic of trying to find their forward players with long balls, but it was a feature of the entire game that they were repeatedly caught offside.
Yamazaki got a goal back in the 78th minute following another mistake, this time by Kaihori, as the hitherto untroubled keeper played the ball directly to Yamazaki who was standing just outside the area. While Kaihori was put under pressure, and did have two of her own players to whom we must presume she was attempting to play it, she would surely have been better advised to have put her foot through the ball to clear the danger.
Ohno had another chance to take her third when she was set through on goal by Kawasumi but she let the ball go too far wide of the post and the chance was gone. This chance, and other good chances which fell to INAC thereafter, was indicative of the last few minutes of the game as Niigata went forward with more confidence after their goal and more gaps were left at the back.
Niigata fought gallantly but could not find another goal to make the finale interesting, INAC will be pleased with the points but will be disappointed to have once again allowed the opposition a poor goal.
INAC face Belle at home next Saturday in their first genuine challenge, while Niigata will feel that they can pick up three points away to Fukuoka.
Albirex Niigata Ladies:
Otomo Maiko (capt), Yamamoto Arina, Kitahara Kana, Nakamura Kaede, Wakabayashi Minori, Saeki Aya, Kawamura Yuri, Kamionobe Megumi, Saito Yuri, Yamazaki Marumi, Kubota Mayu
Subs: Kodama Keiko (Saito Yuri, 65 mins), Hirai Sakina (Kubota Mayu, 65 mins)
Unused subs: Suwa Erina, Nakamura Saki, Hori Yoshie
Scorers: Yamazaki Marumi (78 mins)
INAC Kobe Leonessa:
Kaihori Ayumi, Kinga Yukari, Kai Junko, Tanaka Asuna, Takara Ryoko, Ohno Shinobu (capt), Sawa Homare, Ji So-Yun, Takase Megumi, Nakajima Emi, Kawasumi Nahomi
Subs: Minamiyama Chiaki (Nakajima Emi, 68 mins)
Unused subs: Takenaka Rei, Tanaka Yoko, Nakada Ayu
Scorers: Ohno Shinobu (15, 39 mins), Takase Megumi (20 mins)
Okayama Yunogo Belle 0 - 3 NTV Beleza
(Attendance: 3, 385)
Having taken full points from the lower ranked teams in the division in their first four games, Belle now find themselves six points off the top in fourth spot having lost in consecutive games. Having lost 1-0 away to Urawa last week and, more devastatingly, 3-0 at home to Beleza, Belle now must feel that whatever chance they had at winning their first title is slipping away.
As for Beleza, they're hyping their home game on June 10th against champions and title favourites INAC Kobe and are in no mood to be out of touch by the time that game rolls around. Within ten minutes they had taken the lead through Iwabuchi Mana - her fourth of the season and one of her best. Nagasato received the ball from Iwabuchi, who played the ball to Sakaguchi Mizuho who was just on the edge of the area, facing her own goal. The experienced international drew the Belle defenders' attention to her while Iwabuchi made space for herself, and Sakaguchi played the perfect short pass to release the 19-year-old to score clinically.
Four minutes later Nagasato made it 2-0 and already it looked like the game was up for Belle, given that Beleza had only conceded one goal in their previous games. This time Iwabuchi provided the assist, with Sudo giving her the ball on the left wing. She spotted Nagasato running into the area with and with Tsuhako not marking tightly enough, the Olympic hopeful scored with a well-timed and well-aimed header, and not for the first time this season.
Beleza continued making good chances which on another day may have been converted, with Iwabuchi in particular guilty of blazing over when she had more time than she probably appreciated. Belle had very few goal attempts, with Miyama Aya's shot from outside the area which dipped just over being their main attacking highlight.
Right after the restart Beleza had a three goal cushion, and this time it was Sakaguchi who scored with her first goal for Beleza. Beleza won a corner when a Nagasato shot was parried around by Fukumoto for a corner kick. From the corner played deep by Ito, Sakaguchi rose above two defenders and headed in at the far post, though Fukumoto will feel she should have done better, as she rather weakly palmed the ball into the inside of the net.
For the remainder of the match Belle came more into it in an attacking sense, and had far more shots at goal. Belle's main problem may well rise from their dependence on Miyama Aya in the middle of the park, as all good things come through her, and with decent opposition being able to stifle her creativity, most of the other Belle players cannot compensate, for instance by drawing defenders and defensive midfielders away from Miyama.
Belle next play INAC Kobe away in another daunting challenge they will need to raise their confidence for. In the other top of the table clash, Beleza play Urawa.
Okayama Yunogo Belle:
Fukumoto Miho (capt), Yasuda Kuniko, Kado Yuka, Tsuhako Yumiko, Nagamachi Yuri, Takahashi Haruka, Nakano Manami, Miyama Aya, Nakagawa Chihiro, Arimachi Saori, Matsuoka Miki
Subs: Yokoyama Kumi (Arimachi Saori, 61 mins)
Unused subs: Ikegaya Natsumi, Shigemoto Shiho, Nakamura Miki, Mizushima Kumi
Booked: Kado Yuka
Matsubayashi Miku, Sudo Akiko, Ariyoshi Saori, Iwashimizu Azusa (capt), Doko Mayo, Hara Natsuko, Ito Kanako, Kiryu Nanase, Sakaguchi Mizuho, Nagasato Asano, Iwabuchi Mana
Unused subs: Soyama Kanako, Kobayashi Miharu, Kobayashi Yayoi, Nakasato Yu, Tanaka Mina
Scorers: Iwabuchi Mana (9 mins), Nagasato Asano (13 mins), Sakaguchi Mizuho (46 mins)
Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies 5 - 0 Speranza F.C. Osaka Takatsuki
Newly promoted Speranza had no answer to the attacking potential of their hosts today in Saitama, in a game which saw Kita Chinatsu take the lead in the scoring charts this season with a perfect hat-trick - a goal with her left foot, right foot and head.
It was Kira who opened the scoring on 15 minutes. Following a Speranza throw and attempted clearance the ball found Yanagita who played the ball forward, just over the head of the last defender. Kira, having beaten offside, found herself one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Keeping a cool head, she simply passed the ball right-footed into the net.
Urawa's second goal didn't arrive until first half injury time, though they had had plenty of possession and chances, whereas Speranza had only a solitary attempt at goal. From a Speranza free kick their attacking move broke down, and with several of their players having gone forward Urawa were able to break at speed, stretching the play down the left wing. Arakawa picked up the ball and played a sublime one-two with Kira and easily beat Suzuki to make it 2-0 at the half.
Urawa wasted no time in the second half securing all three points. On 50 minutes Kira had her second, another straightforward goal made by quick thinking. Arakawa was awarded a free kick and took it very quickly to Shibata, who immediately spotted Kira making a darting run into the box. A perfectly weighted ball saw Kira pick it up behind her marker and she slotted home, this time with her left.
Four minutes later Kira had her hat-trick, and this one was with the head. For the third game in a row, Urawa scored through getting a player free from a throw-in. Again it was Tsuchihashi with the pinpoint throw, this time to Shibata, who got to the dead ball line and cross in front of goal for Kira to dive in and head home.
Another nine minutes later Shibata herself got on the scoreboard with her first of the season. Yano Kyoko punted a very long ball forward to Arakawa following an Urawa throw-in. The Speranza defence raced back but in doing so lost track of the Urawa forwards, and when Arakawa stopped and looked up, she found Shibata racing in at the far side. A splendid pass was controlled perfectly by Shibata with her first touch, and she lashed the ball home emphatically.
To their credit, Speranza had matched Urawa for attempts, but simply didn't have the class to stay with their more illustrious opponents. Urawa play Beleza in the big match on Sunday, while Speranza will be hoping for something against JEF United to keep them out of danger at the bottom.
Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies:
Yamago Nozomi, Tsuchihashi Yuki, Yano Kyoko (capt), Dozono Ayano, Wada Naoko, Niwata Akiko, Yanagita Miyuki, Shibata Hanae, Kato Chika, Kira Chinatsu, Arakawa Eriko
Subs: Kishikawa Natsuki (Dozono Ayano, 45 mins), Goto Michi (Kira Chinatsu, 59 mins), Naomoto Hikaru (Arakawa Eriko, 78 mins)
Unused subs: Ikeda Sakiko, Kohata Shiho
Scorers: Kira Chinatsu (15, 50, 54 mins), Arakawa Eriko (45 mins), Shibata Hanae (63 mins)
Speranza F.C. Osaka Takatsuki:
Suzuki Risa, Torao Naomi, Okuda Akiko (capt), Hirano Satoko, Akiba Yumeko, Tsuboi Ayako, Toyoda Nayuha, Itami Emi, Matsuda Nozomi, Hamada Haruka, Maruyama Karina
Subs: Kameoka Natsumi (Hirano Satoko, 53 mins), Asano Miki (Itami Emi, 84 mins), Shimamura Yuko (Maruyama Karina, 84 mins)
Unused subs: Ueno Yukiko, Toyama Sayuri
Booked: Toyoda Nayuha
Iga FC Kunoichi 2 - 1 Fukuoka J. Anclas
Iga held on at home for a 2-1 victory over struggling Fukuoka in what was their first victory of the season. The Kunoichi took six points from Fukuoka last season and will be pleased to have completed the first half of that double today.
The teams were well matched throughout the first half, but in the 33rd minute Iga made the breakthrough when Akiyama Ryo brought down Kobayashi Makiko in the penalty area, the referee not hesitating to point to the spot. Kobayashi herself stepped up to score her first goal of the season, sending the 'keeper the wrong way.
The second half also saw the teams well-matched, but it was Iga again who scored decisively. Following an Anclas throw-in near the half-way line which was poorly controlled by Shibuya Yumiko, the ball broke loose and Iga's Miyamoto Tomomi booted the ball high towards Nakade who, running into the box, pushed the ball on with her head and stretched out to lob the ball over the onrushing Sawada. For Nakade that was her second goal in two games having been brought on as a substitute.
Fukuoka did show some fight, and thirteen minutes later were back in the game with a goal from Isokane Midori, who with this, her second goal of the season, became Anclas' highest scorer, illuminating the dearth of goals the team has managed to score this year. Doshita Misato crossed deep from a corner kick and Isokane raced into the box to head home unmarked. What's remarkable is that this goal was almost a replica of Isokane's first goal of the season against Elfen Sayama, when she headed home unmarked at the far post from a deep cross by Doshita.
Unfortunately for Anclas, both in this game and that one, they couldn't claw back another goal and this fifth defeat of the season sees them bottom with just one point. Iga's players will feel confident that they can stay mid-table this season.
Iga FC Kunoichi:
Ono Maya, Miyasako Tamami, Ono Suzuka (capt), Sakaguchi Sakie, Fujimoto Ayano, Nasu Maiko, Miyamoto Tomomi, Kobayashi Makiko, Tsutsumi Saki, Matsunaga Yoshie, Sonomura Nana
Subs: Nakade Hikari (Sonomura Nana, 55 mins), Haji Madoka (Matsunaga Yoshie, 69 mins), Sato Ai (Sakaguchi Sakie, 90+1 mins)
Unused subs: Kuno Fubuki, Matsunaga Tomoe
Scorers: Kobayashi Makiko (33 mins), Nakade Hikari (60 mins)
Fukuoka J. Anclas:
Sawada Norimi, Kiyohara Marie, Uchihori Ritsuko (capt), Isokane Midori, Akiyama Ryo, Shibuya Yumiko, Doshita Misato, Hanada Aiko, Kuzuma Riyo, Kawamura Mari, Sato Kaede
Subs: Tagashira Yoko (Kuzuma Riyo, HT)
Unused subs: Yatagai Mikiko, Tanihara Yukari, Kushige Aoi
Scorers: Isokane Midori (73 mins)
JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies 3 - 1 AS Elfen Sayama FC
JEF United stay mid-table following their second win of the season. They took a 2-0 lead into half time through Tezuka Saori and an own goal. Tezuka has become a regular starter this year having only played once last year. From a corner by captain Fukusawa, the ball was not dealt with by the defence and the ball broke free for Tezuka to slot it home on 35 minutes.
The own goal also came as a result of a corner kick not dealt with well. With the ball coming loose on the right side, Hosokawa took control, and then saw Chino signalling for the pass. With a pass into space Chino took control near the dead ball line, crossed invitingly and the unfortunate Otani Erina put the ball into her own net while trying to block the cross.
Last week's heroine Azami Rie pulled one back for Sayama just after the restart - with another classy finish showing her fearless approach. A JEF United throw-in was intercepted by Sawada and she played the ball long towards Azami who ran from inside her own half onto the ball and flighted the ball beautifully over Funada who had come outside her area - she was trying to cover for the lack of pace in her two central defenders - but Azami's shot was too well hit and too well timed to be prevented.
Sayama pushed on for the equaliser but late in the game JEF's heroine from last week Yamamoto came off the bench again to score to settle the tie with a tremendous diving header for which she leaped from outside the area, fellow substitute Shimizu Yuka providing the perfectly weighted cross.
JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies:
Funada Mayu, Takahashi Sachie, Hosokawa Motoyo, Kawamura Mariko, Tezuka Saori, Chino Shoko, Ikadai Risa, Kawamura Noriko, Hosaka Nodoka, Yanai Rina, Fukasawa Risa (capt)
Subs: Shimizu Yuka (Ikadai Risa, 56 mins), Yamamoto Naomi (Fukasawa Risa, 80 mins), Koike Kokoro (Yanai Rina, 90+2 mins)
Unused subs: Sakuramoto Naoko, Shimada Ayako
Scorers: Tezuka Saori (35 mins), Own Goal (41 mins), Yamamoto Naomi (90 mins)
Booked: Ikadai Risa
AS Elfen Sayama FC:
Arima Shizuka, Otani Erina, Shibata Satomi, Takahashi Yuko, Yajima Yuki, Azami Rie, Sawada Yuka, Kobayashi Natsumi, Watanabe Ayaka, Suzuki Kaoruko, Muraoka Natsuki (capt)
Subs: Kumagai Sayaka (Muraoka Natsuki, 61 mins), Sugiyama Takako (Suzuki Kaoruko, 74 mins), Uchida Saki (Otani Erina, 90+1 mins)
Unused subs: Otani Haruka, Segi Aiki
Scorers: Azami Rie (47 mins)