JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies 1 - 2 Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies
A late winner from Otaki Ami meant a return to the top of the table for Urawa, who are currently the most impressive side in Japan. They took the lead in the fourteenth minute through Kira Chinatsu, her eighth in total this season, when she leapt highest to head home Wada Naoko's left-sided free kick.
JEF United have recovered well in many games this season, and they equalised with nineteen minutes remaining through Anzai Yuka, taking a pass from Setoguchi Kozue and then striking early, her shot taking a deflection to help it past Chika Hirao in the Urawa net.
Urawa have been disappointed on numerous occasions this season, but were not to be denied today, with Otaki starting and finishing the move to win the game. A misplaced pass was picked up by Otaki, who drove forward with intent and when she played a quick one-two with Seike Kiko which wrong-footed the defence, Otaki was through and finished well into the far side of the net much to the delight of the travelling Urawa fans.
Urawa play nearest rivals Okayama Yunogo Belle on Friday, knowing that a win would give them a huge psychological advantage over the Regular Series champions. JEF United drop to sixth and look to recover on Friday at home against Niigata.
JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies:
Yamane Erina, Wakabayashi Minori, Chino Shoko, Oya Madoka, Ueno Saki, Anzai Yuka, Setoguchi Kozue, Kawamura Mari (capt), Fukasawa Risa, Kamogawa Miho, Sugasawa Yuika
Subs: Matsuura Nagisa (Anzai Yuka, 90 mins)
Unused subs: Nemoto Mio, Tsurumi Ayaka, Koike Kokoro, Yasuda Saki, Hosaka Nodoka, Hanagiri Naomi
Scorers: Anzai Yuka (71 mins)
Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies:
Hirao Chika, Dozono Ayano, Norimatsu Ruka, Kohata Shiho, Wada Naoko, Shibata Hanae, Naomoto Hikaru, Kishikawa Natsuki, Kato Chika, Kira Chinatsu, Goto Michi (capt)
Subs: Seike Kiko (Kira Chinatsu, 71 mins), Otaki Ami (Goto Michi, 73 mins), Saito Akane (Kato Chika, 88 mins)
Unused subs: Ikeda Sakiko, Suzuki Rina, Tomari Shiho, Nagano Fuka
Scorers: Kira Chinatsu (14 mins), Otaki Ami (86 mins)
Albirex Niigata Ladies 2 - 3 INAC Kobe Leonessa
The first half of this game couldn't have gone better for the struggling champions, with three goals in six minutes putting them in control and seemingly on their way to an easy first three points of the Exciting Series. The first was scored by the league's top scorer thus far, Takase Megumi, who rounded Niigata's goalkeeper Ichitani following a superb through ball from Kawasumi Nahomi. Kawasumi was involved in the second goal also, though the build up involved many INAC players who patiently played the ball from one side to another. Ultimately Kawasumi's cross was headed on by Takase to Goebel-Yanez who scored her first goal in her first game since returning to Japan.
Niigata had struggled to get their American returnee, Tiffany McCarty, into the game at all as they encountered difficulty in creating anything from midfield, and the points looked secure for the visitors when they scored their third, this time from a more unlikely source, Watanabe Ayaka with her first of the season direct from a free kick, though Ichitani was largely responsible, allowing the ball to slip through her grasp.
In the second half Niigata went on the attack but they needed two own goals to bring them back to within one of equalising. The first came as a result of Kaihori Ayumi misjudging a backpass, and the second came when Saeki Aya made a good run down the left and her ball across the face of goal was turned in.
Although given a scare, INAC held on as they limited Niigata to more chances, and earned their first win of the second stage. They are five points behind leaders Urawa, and next Friday play at home against Beleza, whom they trail by three points. Niigata slip to fifth and next play JEF United, who are sixth.
Albirex Niigata Ladies:
Ichitani Tomoko, Obara Yuria, Kitahara Kana, Yamamoto Arina, Kojima Miku, Takahashi Haruka, Saito Yuri, Sakaguchi Moeno, Kamionobe Megumi (capt), Saeki Aya, Tiffany McCarty
Subs: Yamazaki Marumi (Takahashi Haruka, HT), Oishi Sayaka (Tiffany McCarty, 70 mins), Kubota Mayu (Sakaguchi Moeno, 89 mins)
Unused subs: Koganemaru Sachie, Okakura Mika, Sayama Momoko, Kodama Keiko
Scorers: Own Goal (55 mins), Own Goal (66 mins)
INAC Kobe Leonessa:
Kaihori Ayumi, Noguchi Ayaka, Isokane Midori, Miyake Shiori, Watanabe Ayaka, Kawasumi Nahomi, Sawa Homare, Minamiyama Chiaki, Takase Megumi (capt), Kyokawa Mai, Beverly Goebel-Yanez
Subs: Masuya Rika (Kyokawa Mai, 58 mins), Kai Junko (Noguchi Ayaka, 73 mins)
Unused subs: Takenaka Rei, Nakada Ayu, Tanaka Yoko
Scorers: Takase Megumi (36 mins), Beverly Goebel-Yanez (39 mins), Watanabe Ayaka (42 mins)
Booked: Noguchi Ayaka
Nippon TV Beleza 2 - 0 Okayama Yunogo Belle
Beleza hosted Belle in Yamato in difficult typhoon weather, with Yamaguchi Mami making her first start since returning to the club this summer. The home side started well and looked to attack at pace in the opening minutes, a shot from Ariyoshi which went just wide was followed by a rasping shot from Momiki which Fukumoto found difficult to handle in the wet conditions.
The game continued very much at Beleza's pace and it wasn't until the 20th minute that Nakano was able to create some danger in the Beleza box with a tempting cross pulled out of the air by Soyama.
The opening goal came in the 25th minute, and unsurprisingly it was Beleza who took the lead. From a throw in Momiki got free of Mizushima and her cross was met by Sumida who struck home confidently past Fukumoto, who was not helped by her defence not picking up the run of Sumida.
Momiki almost scored one for herself moments later after receiving a through pass from Sumida, It had been a very poor opening for the winners of the Regular Series, and there was little evidence at this stage that they could get back into this game. In the 33rd minute Ariyoshi crossed for Yamaguchi who missed an open goal as Beleza continued to press for a second goal.
In the 42nd minute Hasegawa on the right pulled the ball back for Sakaguchi who scored the second goal for Beleza with a thumping shot into the top corner, which was no more than Beleza deserved.
At half-time Belle brought on Fushiki for Kuzuma as they looked for a way back into the game. They did create more chances in the opening stages, Matsuoka with two blocked shots in the area and Asano with a free header put badly wide.
Beleza continued to pose the more danger, with both Hasegawa and Yamaguchi seeing their shots saved by Fukumoto as the home side took control of midfield. Kado Yuka headed against the post at the other end, though the early signs of recovery had largely disappeared. Nineteen minutes into the second half Kiryu Nanase came on for Yamaguchi Mami, and her first chance came within a few minutes, though she was well held at bay by Kitaura, who was on hand a minute later to similarly deny Hasegawa.
Into the final fifteen minutes and Beleza showed no signs of holding back, with Momiki shooting just wide after some patient buildup. Miyama Aya has again been Belle's most important player this year, and with her play in midfield largely ineffective, the rest of the Belle team couldn't make up for it.
Beleza are now one point behind Belle who are second, and two behind the leaders Urawa, with both Urawa and Beleza now looking the most likely to be competing for the title at the end of the season. Beleza next play in Kobe and Belle are away to Urawa.
Nippon TV Beleza:
Soyama Kanako, Shimizu Risa, Iwashimizu Azusa (capt), Kinoshita Shiori, Ariyoshi Saori, Hara Natsuko, Sakaguchi Mizuho, Sumida Rin, Momiki Yuka, Hasegawa Yui, Yamaguchi Mami
Subs: Kiryu Nanase (Yamaguchi Mami, 64 mins), Kobayashi Yayoi (Sumida Rin, 90+1 mins)
Unused subs: Yamashita Ayaka, Doko Mayo, Kobayashi Miharu, Nakasato Yu, Tanaka Mina
Scorers: Sumida Rin (25 mins), Sakaguchi Mizuho (42 mins)
Okayama Yunogo Belle:
Fukumoto Miho (capt), Kado Yuka, Kitaura Miho, Mizushima Kumi, Takahashi Sachie, Kuzuma Riyo, Nakano Manami, Miyama Aya, Asano Miki, Arimachi Saori, Matsuoka Miki
Subs: Fushiki Kaho (Kuzuma Riyo, HT)
Unused subs: Aoyagi Maririn, Taniguchi Kikumi, Kawano Saki, Nakada Maiko, Tanaka Mayu
AS Elfen Saitama 0 - 4 Vegalta Sendai Ladies
Saitama had high hopes of taking something from their game against Vegalta Sendai, but the visitors raced into a three goal lead and had the game won within the first ten minutes. Uetsuji Yumi scored the first after three minutes, with Takara and Sakai following up, with Sakai's goal being her first of the entire season.
Saitama did create chances in the second half as they looked for an unlikely comeback, but Sendai had the final say, Hamada Haruka scoring her third goal in three games in the Exciting Series, and sixth this year in total.
Sendai host Kibi in Kakuda on Monday expecting a straightforward win; Saitama travel to Iga looking first to avoid defeat. A win would guarantee safety.
AS Elfen Saitama:
Yamago Nozomi (capt), Akitaya Misato, Saito Natsumi, Takahashi Yuko, Takeyama Yuko, Hagiwara Aimi, Ito Kanako, Uchida Saki, Azami Rie, Takahashi Kaho, Suzuki Kaoruko
Subs: Sarah Gregorius (Akitaya Misato, 34 mins), Sugiyama Takako (Uchida Saki, HT), Nakano Rino (Suzuki Kaoruko, 78 mins)
Unused subs: Funada Mayu, Utsumi Yui, Takeda Arisa, Saito Yuri
Booked: Takahashi Yuko
Vegalta Sendai Ladies:
Brittany Cameron, Sakai Yuki, Yamamoto Risa, Osafune Kana, Sameshima Aya, Takara Ryoko, Kawamura Yuri (capt), Uetsuji Yumi, Kakazu Asuka, Hamada Haruka, Ono Hitomi
Subs: Koyama Kie (Ono Hitomi, HT), Kawashima Haruna (Hamada Haruka, 77 mins), Tahara Nozomi (Kakazu Asuka, 80 mins)
Unused subs: Ideue Asako, Inoue Ayaka
Scorers: Uetsuji Yumi (4 mins), Takara Ryoko (7 mins), Sakai Yuki (9 mins), Hamada Haruka (76 mins)
FC Kibikokusaidaigaku Charme 0 - 2 Iga FC Kunoichi
Although the scoreline was quite close in the end, Iga had little trouble in defeating Kibi to move to within four points of Saitama, whom they play next. Iga's caretaker manager brought Sugita Ami back into the starting lineup and she created both goals, the first scored by Tsustumi and the second by Matsunaga Yoshie.
Kibi's relegation will be confirmed next Monday if they lose away to Vegalta Sendai, which looks likely. As mentioned, Iga host Saitama and must win if they are to have any chance of overtaking them into a safe position. A loss and they will be guaranteed to have to play off for the right to stay in the top division.
FC Kibikokusaidaigaku Charme:
Isashi Kaede, Mukai Satsuki, Noma Fumika, Muramatsu Mafuyu, Eguchi Mika, Takano Saki, Watanabe Kazumi, Yoshitake Manami, Tajima Mitsuyo, Komatsu Mina, Takahashi Chiho (capt)
Subs: Nagano Momoko (Watanabe Kazumi, HT), Kurakazu Shiho (Tajima Mitsuyo, HT), Nishikawa Asuka (Komatsu Mina, 67 mins)
Unused subs: Morimoto Kiyo, Miyake Ayumi, Hamamoto Marin, Kanbara Misaki
Booked: Muramatsu Mafuyu
Iga FC Kunoichi:
Kuno Fubuki, Miyasako Tamami, Nasu Maiko (capt), Ohashi Mio, Kobayashi Misaki, Shimizu Akane, Matsunaga Tomoe, Haji Madoka, Tsutsumi Saki, Matsunaga Yoshie, Sugita Ami
Subs: Noichi Aya (Matsunaga Yoshie, 84 mins), Ogawa Shiho (Tsutsumi Saki, 88 mins)
Unused subs: Sawada Norimi, Michikura Hiroko, Kobayashi Makiko, Sonomura Nana
Scorers: Tsutsumi Saki (15 mins), Matsunaga Yoshie (76 mins)