KASHIWA, CHIBA PREF. – Japan striker Ryoichi Maeda scored twice as struggling Jubilo Iwata boosted their top-flight survival hopes with a stunning 3-1 win at Kashiwa Reysol in the J. League on Friday night.
Iwata came into the match second-from-bottom of the table and nine points adrift of the safety zone, having not won in the league since beating Albirex Niigata 2-1 on July 10.
But Shunya Suganuma opened the scoring early on and Maeda completed his brace in the 63rd minute to put a dent in Reysol’s preparations for their Asian Champions League quarterfinal second leg away to Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab on Wednesday.
“I’m so happy,” said Maeda. “We have been two goals up and then conceded and lost games so it was good timing (for my second goal) and all credit to Zaki (Ryohei Yamazaki for the assist).
“It is a big win for us but we have got a tough opponent in Kashima next and we want to give our supporters (another) victory.”
Buoyed by an 8-1 demolition of non-league Saurcos Fukui on Saturday in the Emperor’s Cup, Iwata took the lead after five minutes.
Suganuma headed in a flick on from Yoshiaki Fujita following a Carlinhos corner and Maeda then doubled the advantage two minutes later, beating marker Naoya Kondo to head home another Carlinhos delivery from 12 meters.
Kashiwa nearly hit back in the 32nd minute but Iwata goalkeeper Naoki Hatta did well to get down and turn a low drive from Junya Tanaka around the post.
Hatta produced an even better stop to once again thwart Tanaka five minutes into the second half, but there was little he could do as Tanaka made it third time lucky by bundling in Masato Kudo’S flick on from Kim Chang-soo’s cross in the 56th minute.
Iwata, however, needed only seven minutes to restore its two-goal cushion. Yamazaki took a pass from Yuki Kobayashi and broke free down the right flank before his cross set up Maeda for a simple finish at the far post.