At last Omiya Ardija brought to an end their winless streak on Saturday, with a dominant performance against a poor Consadole Sapporo team. To the surprise - not to say alarm - of Squirrels fans, coach Yasuhiro Higuchi kept Yosuke Kataoka alongside Leandro in the centre of defence despite first-choice Daisuke Tomita being apparently available again following suspension. Up front, Higuchi awarded a first start to Klemen Lavric, after a series of encouraging displays as a substitute.
But things did not start well. As early as the second minute, Leandro foolishly hauled down Consa forward Anderson in the six-yard area when a cross came in from the left. Out came the yellow card for the big Ardija defender and Anderson scored the resultant penalty, despite Koji Ezumi almost getting a hand to it.
Sapporo's lead was almost doubled by the same player shortly afterwards, when he had the ball in the net from a header. It looked as if Omiya were 2-0 down, but the goal was disallowed for mystifying reasons: no-one was offside and there was no foul on the replay. In the resulting confusion, the Squirrels equalised through Lavric's brilliant left-footed volley following a cross from the right from Denis Marques: a terrific way for the Slovenian to get off the mark in the J-League.
After that, it really was one-way traffic from Ardija. Leandro had a point-blank header saved by the impressive Sapporo reserve goalkeeper Yuya Sato, Daigo Kobayashi had a shot tipped around the post and it looked like Omiya would score with every attack - but being the Squirrels, of course the score stayed at one apiece.
But at last, Ardija edged ahead eleven minutes into the second half through Denis Marques, who was tripped in the box and got up to take the penalty himself. In fact Denis' kick was saved by Sato, but the rebound luckily fell to Omiya's top scorer and he made no mistake in notching up his seventh of the year.
By this point the referee presumably thought two penalties were enough for any match, as he astonishingly waved away Squirrels claims when Daigo was unceremoniously pulled back and then hacked to the ground. But there were no real dramas for Ezumi as the Omiya defence held firm and Denis almost grabbed a second, but for yet another brilliant save from the Dosanko custodian. 2-1 to Omiya, but it could have been a lot more.