Soccer: Struggling Bellmare knock Frontale from top spot

Hiroyuki Abe scored the injury-time winner as relegation-threatened Shonan Bellmare knocked two-time defending champions Kawasaki Frontale out of the J-League first-division lead with a 2-1 victory on Saturday.

The visitors at Bellmare's Lemon Gas Stadium in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, were unable to convert their midfield dominance into points and paid the price in a late defensive lapse.

Frontale midfielder Kazuya Yamamura failed to stop a long through pass to Bellmare's Naoki Yamada, who cut back to Abe. The veteran then fired home against one of his former teams.

"It was the first goal I've scored for this team in a win, and that's important to be accepted," said Abe, who joined Bellmare on loan in July. "It was a brutal game for us, so to win is just the greatest."

Entering the game with a two-point J1 lead over Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Frontale struck from a corner in the 20th minute.

Japan defender Shogo Taniguchi made a good adjustment to head a kick that was swerving away from the goal, and his shot went in off the head of unsuspecting forward Kei Chinen.

The hosts equalized from the spot due to a suspect 50th-minute decision after Bellmare forward Shuto Machino and Frontale defender Jesiel chased the ball in the penalty area.

Machino planted his leg in the defender's path, let Jesiel make contact with him, and tumbled forward to sell it before drilling home the penalty himself.

The victory moved Bellmare to 14th place, one point clear of the relegation zone.

The loss snapped Kawasaki's four-match win streak and left them third on 49 points, one point back of Sanfrecce after Takumu Kawamura's late brace in a 2-0 home win over Shimizu S-Pulse.

Yokohama F Marinos earned a 2-2 away draw to FC Tokyo to stay second, ahead of Frontale on goal difference.

Kashima Antlers, fourth on 45 points, were held 2-2 at home by Urawa Reds, with Kashiwa Reysol a point back in fifth after their 2-2 away draw to last-place Jubilo Iwata.

Elsewhere, Kyoto Sanga beat Vissel Kobe 2-0, Sagan Tosu thumped Gamba Osaka 3-0, and Nagoya Grampus defeated Avispa Fukuoka 3-2.

© Kyodo News