East Asia Leagues Wrap: Kubo brace keeps FC Tokyo on top
Kuala Lumpur: Ahead of the FIFA International break, the weekend's domestic matches in the East saw plenty of action and entertainment with young star Takefusa Kubo continuing to excite ahead of his 18th birthday.
With the Leagues in Chinese Taipei, Macau and Mongolia having already entered the international break - and the domestic season for Hong Kong, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands already concluded - the focus was on last weekend's fixtures in Japan, Korea Republic and China PR.
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Prodigious young talent Takefusa Kubo will turn 18 on June 4, but he marked the occasion a few days early with a double in a 3-1 win over Oita Trinita to ensure FC Tokyo remain top of the J.League and maintain the capital city side's six-point cushion at the summit.
Yokohama F. Marinos, one of Kubo's former clubs, had a day earlier put the pressure on with a 2-1 away win over Shonan Bellmare which sees them in third after the team in second, defending champions Kawasaki Frontale, were held to a 1-1 draw by Urawa Red Diamonds.
Fourth placed Nagoya Grampus' own title challenge was dealt an early, and surprising, blow as they lost 3-1 away to Vegalta Sendai who are currently third from bottom in the table.
Ulsan Hyundai dropped points in the midweek fixtures, allowing Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to occupy a familiar position at the top of the K-League standings going into the weekend's games, although the former did then return temporarily to the summit after 3-1 away win at Jeju United on Saturday.
A day later, against Sangju Sangmu on Sunday, the 24th minute sending off of Jeonbuk defender Kim Jin-su would have given Ulsan hope of holding onto top spot, but thanks to second-half goals from Moon Seon-min and Lee Dong-gook, the 10 men rallied to see out a 2-0 victory and take back first place.
Meanwhile, third-placed FC Seoul and Daegu FC in fourth both kept the pressure on the top two with away wins at Gyeongnam FC and Pohang Steelers respectively.
After last week's dramatic top-of-the-table clash between Beijing FC and Shanghai SIPG, the top three all picked up away wins in the Chinese Super League as they begin to draw away from the chasing pack with fourth-placed Shandong Luneng drawing 1-1 with Jiangsu Suning in fifth.
Wang Ziming was Beijing FC's hero in a 2-1 win over Tianjin Teda as the league-leading capital city side recovered from the ending of their 100% record to chalk up an 11th win 12 CSL matches.
Second-placed Shanghai SIPG maintained their chase, though, with their own 2-1 victory as they defeated Dalian Yifang with goals from Elkeson and Li Shenglong. Meanwhile the team team in third, Guangzhou Evergrande, recorded a comprehensive 5-2 win in Zhengzhou to beat Henan Jianye.
Photo: FC Tokyo
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