Domestic Leagues

East Asia and ASEAN Wrap: Marinos win big ahead of ACL return

Kuala Lumpur: Yokohama F. Marinos' preparation for the 2020 AFC Champions League restart received a timely boost on Saturday as they enjoyed a big win over Urawa Red Diamonds.

While many of the domestic leagues across East Asia and ASEAN were dormant, due to the seasons concluding or being postponed, there was a full set of fixtures in Japan, while there was also action to review in the Singapore Premier League and Hong Kong's Sapling Cup.

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Japan: Marinos too good for Reds; Frontale held by Antlers

A Junior Santos hat-trick helped 2020 AFC Champions League participants Yokohama F. Marinos defeat 2019 Continental finalists Urawa Red Diamonds 6-2 in Yokohama on the weekend as Ange Postecoglou's charges look to head to Doha with a winning momentum.

The result was the perfect response to a three-match losing slump for Marinos as Daizen Maeda, Ryuta Koike and Kota Mizunuma, who also got three assists, all added goals in dominant display.

It was not the only big win nor only hat-trick on Saturday, as Vegalta Sendai shocked second-placed Gamba Osaka 4-0 on their own turf with Shun Nagasawa netting a treble. Capping off a forgettable weekend for Osaka teams was city rivals Cerezo's 3-1 defeat at Shimizu S-Pulse.

Kawasaki Frontale's coronation as 2020 champions seems a case of when, rather than if, but it will need to wait a little longer as a 1-1 draw with Kashima Antlers means they pass up the chance to clinch the title on Wednesday against Marinos.

There was a big third versus fourth clash on Sunday which has ramifications for the 2021 AFC Champions League participants as Nagoya Grampus faced FC Tokyo, and it was a dramatic finale to the tie as Mateus scored a penalty five minutes into stoppage time to win it 1-0 for the hosts at Toyota Stadium.

Sunday saw another match involving a 2020 AFC Champions League participant as Vissel Kobe slumped to a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Shonan Bellmare as a Takuya Okamoto strike and Mitsuki Saito long-range effort in the final 13 minutes settled the tie.

In the other ties of the weekend in the J1 League, Hokkaido Consadole Saporro drew 1-1 with Sagan Tosu, while Sanfrecce Hiroshima were also held by Yokohama FC by the same scoreline.

Singapore: Albirex Niigata (S) go top after Rovers drop points

For a second consecutive matchday, Tampines Rovers let slip a lead to draw as their 2-2 stalemate with Balestier Khalsa on Thursday allowed Albirex Niigata (S) the opportunity to leapfrog The Stags into top spot in the 2020 Singapore Premier League season.

And it was an opening the Japanese satellite team accepted just a day later as Tomoyuki Doi's third-minute strike was enough to see off Geylang International and take the White Swans into pole position in the standings, ahead of Tampines on goal difference.

Also on Friday, third-placed side Lion City Sailors put six past Tanjong Pagar in a 6-1 scoreline which saw braces from Stipe Plazibat and Adam Swandi among the goals, while Hougang United defeated Young Lions a day earlier after Zach Anderson, Charles Machell, Shawal Anuar and Anders Aplin all found the net.

Hong Kong: Goals galore in Sapling Cup

There may have only been four matches in Hong Kong over the weekend, but from them came 19 goals as there was some high-scoring action in the cup competition known as the Sapling Cup.

Thirteen of those came from Group B as Happy Valley eased past newly promoted Resources Capital 6-1 on Sunday, with first-placed Eastern sharing a six-goal thriller with Southern District in an action-packed 3-3 tie.

In Group A a day earlier, Pegasus and BC Rangers were also involved in a six-goal encounter but it was the hosts who came out on top 4-2, while defending champions Kitchee SC and Warriors played out a goalless stalemate.

*Poll ends at 16:00 (UTC+8) on November 20.


Photo: Yokohama F. Marinos

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