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Football Japan Minutecast No. 4 – Albirex go top as Gamba bemoan ‘referee error’


Monday 23 March 2009

A controversial penalty had Gamba Osaka crying foul on Sunday as their perfect start to the 2009 season was blotted by a first defeat in nine years to local rivals Kyoto Sanga. Having already fallen behind to a Lee Jung-Soo strike in first-half stoppage time, Gamba were outraged when a penalty was awarded for an alleged trip on Atsushi Yanagisawa by Yosuke Fujigaya, despite the ‘keeper appearing to have got two clear hands on the ball. Diego made no mistake from the spot, and Kyoto held on to win despite a 76th minute consolation goal from Shinji Terada.


After the game, a visibly angry Fujigaya told reporters ‘if that’s a penalty, then anything’s a penalty. Write it down as a referee error’. Gamba manager Akira Nishino was unusually emotional as well, saying ‘we might have been poor today, but we weren’t as poor as the refereeing’. The club have already issued an official complaint to the J. League.


Top spot in J1 has now been taken by Albirex Niigata, whose excellent start to the season shows no signs of stopping despite drawing a blank in a scrappy 0-0 draw away to Oita Trinita. Tipped as candidates for relegation before the start of the season, Albirex now have seven points from three games – all against teams finishing in the top six last year.


The Niigata side are joined at the top by Nagoya Grampus, who beat Shimizu S-Pulse 3-1 thanks to a brace from Brazilian striker Davi, either side of a goal from Keiji Yoshimura. Kashima Antlers left it late to beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-1, but Urawa Reds’ indifferent start to the campaign continued when they were held to a 1-1 draw by bottom club Jubilo Iwata.


Elsewhere, Kawasaki Frontale’s struggles continued with a 1-1 draw away to JEF United Chiba. Montedio Yamagata suffered their first loss in J1 away to FC Tokyo, Vissel Kobe drew 1-1 away in Omiya, while Yokohama F Marinos and Kashiwa Reysol played out a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Nissan Stadium.



J1 results (matchday 3)

Omiya Ardija 1-1 Vissel Kobe

FC Tokyo 1-0 Montedio Yamagata

Jubilo Iwata 1-1 Urawa Reds

Yokohama F Marinos 3-3 Kashiwa Reysol

Oita Trinita 0-0 Albirex Niigata

Nagoya Grampus 3-1 Shimizu S-Pulse

Kyoto Sanga 2-1 Gamba Osaka

Kashima Antlers 2-1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima

JEF United Chiba 1-1 Kawasaki Frontale


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