Frontale spoil script in Osaka as J-League returns
Cerezo Osaka lost their first game under new manager Marco Pezzaiuoli on Tuesday, squandering the lead to be defeated 2-1 by Kawasaki Frontale as the J-League resumed after the World Cup.
In a low-key restart following Japan's meek exit from the Cup in Brazil, Yokohama F-Marinos won by the same scoreline at champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima thanks to a Sho Ito winner deep in stoppage time.
Japan striker Yoichiro Kakitani, in his final game for Cerezo before his switch to FC Basel, only came off the bench 10 minutes from time with the home side behind, much to the crowd's chagrin.
World Cup players from both sides, including Uruguay striker Diego Forlan, were presented with flowers before the game, one of two Tuesday after a two-month break.
Cerezo followed the script in the first half, Jun Ando pouncing after 20 minutes with a neat finish, only for Japan forward Yoshito Okubo to level from the penalty spot on the hour mark.
Substitute Jun Kanakubo snatched the winner for Frontale with a clinical long-range shot in the 76th minute before Takumi Minamino added to Pezzaiuoli's frustration by getting himself sent off.
Frontale's win lifted them to third in the first division on 24 points from 14 games, five behind table-topping Urawa Reds. Cerezo languish on 13th with 16 points.
Hiroshima imploded even more dramatically for their fourth loss of the season, with Naoki Ishihara's 56th-minute volley wiped out as rain-soaked fans were already leaving the stadium to avoid the rush for trains.
If Manabu Saito's last-minute equaliser was not distressing enough, Sho Ito's coolly taken winner was a cruel stroke of misfortune.
The forward capitalised from a lucky ricochet to slam the ball home from a tight angle, leaving Sanfrecce seventh and seven points off the pace.
A full slate of first division games will be played this weekend.