Soccer: Ienaga brace helps Frontale beat fellow contenders Sanfrecce

A brace from Akihiro Ienaga spurred Kawasaki Frontale to an emphatic 4-0 victory over visiting Sanfrecce Hiroshima in a high-stakes clash between the J-League first-division title contenders on Saturday.

Yasuto Wakizaka and Kei Chinen also found the net as back-to-back J1 champions Frontale leapfrogged Sanfrecce into second place on 52 points, one win behind leaders Yokohama F Marinos, who prevailed 1-0 at home to Avispa Fukuoka.

The result snapped a five-game win streak for Michael Skibbe's Hiroshima side, who now sit two points back from Frontale in third but have played 29 games, two more than either team above them on the table.

In a first half of relatively few chances, Ienaga gave Toru Oniki's men the lead in the 34th minute at Todoroki Stadium, firing home off a cutback from Asahi Sasaki, who provided the assist after receiving Marcinho's touch pass.

Wakizaka combined with Marcinho to make it 2-0 in the 59th minute, turning and shooting after the Brazilian attacker squared the ball to him in the middle of the area.

Chinen extended the lead with his 68th-minute penalty, converting from the spot following Jelani Reshaun Sumiyoshi's careless challenge on Wakizaka.

Hiroshima keeper Keisuke Osako made a diving save to deny Marcinho 10 minutes later, but the ball ricocheted straight across the area toward Ienaga, who blasted into the net with his first touch.

"We're really happy to get the win," the 36-year-old Ienaga said. "The number of remaining games is getting smaller, but there is still some way to go. We really want to do the best we can."

At Nissan Stadium, Anderson Lopes netted the solitary goal in the 14th minute to help Kevin Muscat's Marinos hold off relegation-threatened Avispa and maintain a three-point buffer at the top.

In other J1 results, Kashima Antlers stood pat in fourth place following a 1-1 draw away to Kyoto Sanga, while Cerezo Osaka climbed to fifth, beating Sagan Tosu 2-1 at home on Jean Patric's injury-time winner.

Urawa Reds overwhelmed visiting Kashiwa Reysol 4-1, Shimizu S-Pulse drew 1-1 at home to Shonan Bellmare, while Nagoya Grampus and struggling Vissel Kobe played a goalless draw at Noevir Stadium.

Gamba Osaka climbed out of the relegation zone into 15th place after taking a point from their scoreless stalemate against visiting FC Tokyo.

© Kyodo News