Kenya: Michael Olunga on Target as Kashiwa Demolish Kashima

25 November 2020

Michael Olunga closed in on Japan's top-tier league Golden Boot after scoring in Kashiwa Reysol's 4-1 demolition of Kashima Antlers 4-1 in a league match on Wednesday at Kashima Soccer Stadium.

It was the Kenyan international's 25th league goal this season as Nelsinho Baptista's men ended their five match winless streak against Kashima. Kengo Kitazume, Cristiano and Yuta Kamiya were also on target for Kashiwa, who stay 10th with 44 points from 28 matches following the result.

Reysol had lost three back-to-back matches against Kashima with an aggregate score of 12-6. They made their intentions clear from the word go by registering 10 attempts on goal against their opponents' four before finally breaking the deadlock through Kitazume just after a water break in the 26th minute.

Olunga along with playmaker Ataru Esaka and Yusuke Segawa, who was making a return to the starting line-up, had some good chances before and after Kitazume's goal which separated these sides at halftime.

Kashiwa did not relent in the second half, but the hosts leveled when Juan Alano foudn the back of the net in the 56th minute capitalising on an error by Seung-Gyu Kim.

The 26-year-old Olunga, who was voted the Most Valuable Player in J1 League in August, restored Kashiwa's lead on 75 minutes. The visitors survived a scare after Kashima broke their defence moments later, but wasted the final shot.

Brazilian Cristiano put some breathing space for Kashiwa after he added the third goal in the 82nd minute from a well-executed counterattack. Olunga, Esaka and Cristiano proved to be handful for the highly-ranked Kashima.

Kashima had no way back in the match after Kamiya, who replaced Esaka in the 85th minute, added his name on the scoresheet in the first minute of injury time. Esaka had made assists for Olunga and Cristiano.

After the match played in front of 4, 327 fans, Kashima dropped one spot to fifth on the table with 52 points. Kashiwa visit Vegalta Sendai next on December 1, a match that was initially programmed for November 3, but postponed after a coronavirus outbreak in the former's camp.

Champions Kawasaki Frontale hit second-ranked Gamba Osaka 5-0 in a top-of-the-table clash.

Kawasaki has amassed 75 points, 17 clear of Gamba, while Nagoya Grampus is third on 53. These first three sides have played 30 matches in the 18-team league. Cerezo Osaka dislodged Kashima from fourth place courtesy of 1-0 win over Oita Trinita.

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