Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Asia: Too close to call in Big Three nations

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on July 18, 2010
Kashima Antlers

Kashima Antlers remain on top of the J-League after a 2-1 win over Kawasaki Frontale

Things are getting interesting in the three biggest league championships of Asian football. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog highlights the latest developments in Japan, China and South Korea.

The top of the J-League table shows the top three teams separated by just two points after thirteen games. Champions Kashima Antlers are back on top of the table after a 2-1 win at home to Kawasaki Frontale with Jung Soo-Lee scoring the winning goal for Kashima in the 78th minute. Kawasaki had played with ten men for all of the second half after former Eintracht Frankfurt star Junichi Inamoto was sent off late in the first half and would eventually be made to pay after resisting the Kashima attack for so long. Shimuzu S-Pulse were top of the table before the weekend’s matches but drop into second place after a disappointing goalless draw at home to twelfth place Jubilo Iwata whilst Nagoya Grampus Eight closed the gap thanks to a Joshua Kennedy strike in the 76th minute to gain a slender 1-0 win over Omiya Ardija. Omiya are second bottom after Shonan Bellmare managed to jump from bottom (18th) place into 16th thanks to a 1-0 win away at Kyoto Sanga who now occupy the bottom spot thanks to that defeat.

In South Korea four points separate the top seven teams in another closely fought championship race. Ulsan Hyundai occupied the top spot before the weekend’s matches began but suddenly found themselves in fifth place after their 1-0 defeat at home to Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma. Jeju United are now at the top of the table following a 5-0 rout over second bottom club Gangwon FC. Seoul FC stay in third spot despite their 1-0 defeat away at Incheon United while Gyeongnam occupy fourth place after they defeated mid-table outfit Gwangju Sangmu 1-0. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Busan I’Park lie in sixth and seventh respectively having each put four goals past their hapless opponents. Jeonbuk beat lowly Daejeon Citizen 4-0 while Busan ensured that 2009 Asian Champions League winners Pohang Steelers remain in domestic despair following a 4-2 win. The Steelers are just two points and three places clear of bottom team Daegu FC as their K-League form remains in stark contrast to their performances at Asian level.

China’s Super League also sees a neatly bunched selection of clubs at the top of the table with six teams separated by four points. Shanghai Shenhua remain top despite dropping two points at home to fifth place Henan Jianye following a spectacular match which finished 3-3, the away side coming from 2-0 down to take the lead before Shanghai equalized fifteen minutes from time thanks to Duvier Riascos. This allowed Luneng Taishan to close the gap between themselves and Shanghai to just a point after they defeated Nanchang Bayi 1-0 with Zheng Zheng’s 55th minute goal enough to settle the match in Luneng’s favour. Hangzhou Greentown also remained in the running after a 2-0 victory over Shaanxi Chanba while Liaoning jump into fourth place on the back of a 2-1 win over Jiangsu Shuntian. Defending champions Beijing Guo’an missed the opportunity to close the gap and remain in sixth place following a heavy 3-0 defeat away at Dalian Shide

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