YOKOHAMA – Yokohama F. Marinos overcame an early setback to beat Melbourne Victory 3-2 and pick up their first win in Group G in the Asian Champions League on Wednesday night.
Cerezo Osaka, meanwhile, had Tatsuya Yamashita to thank as he scored a late equalizer to complete a brace and earn a 2-2 draw away to Thailand’s Buriram United in Group E.
At Nissan Stadium, James Troisi fired the Australians in front from the penalty spot, but Yokohama hit back through Sho Ito and Kosuke Nakamachi, who punished poor defending to give the home side the lead. Shingo Hyodo added a late third before James Jeggo pulled one back in time added on for Melbourne.
The result keeps Yokohama’s hopes of a place in the knockout phase alive as Yasuhiro Higuchi’s men improved to four points with two games left, three behind South Korea’s Jeonbuk Motors and defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande of China. Jeonbuk beat Guangzhou 1-0. Melbourne also has four points.
“We knew we were in a corner and I am glad we won,” said Ito. “We conceded early and we just wanted to get back into the game. My goal came at a good time.”
Marinos had taken just one point from their previous three games and came into Tuesday’s match having gone down 1-0 in Melbourne two weeks ago to Kosta Barbarouses’ early strike.
The Emperor’s Cup holders made another poor start and found themselves a goal down after just seven minutes.
Hyodo was booked for bringing Jason Geria down in the box and Troisi made no mistake with his spot kick, sending Marinos keeper Tetsuya Enomoto the wrong way.
Yokohama defender Yuji Nakazawa tested Lawrence Thomas with a header after 10 minutes, and the home side had a small slice of fortune and equalized midway through the first half.
Shohei Ogura’s long ball forward bounced off the back of Melbourne’s Leigh Broxam and straight to the feet of Ito, who finished with a cute lob over the head of Thomas.
“I talked to Ogura about playing in balls like that and he gave me a great pass. I saw where the keeper was and it was just a case of me putting it away,” said Ito.
Thomas was badly at fault as Yokohama went in front moments later. The Melbourne keeper fumbled a cross from the left, Broxham could only half clear with his overhead kick and Nakamachi was on hand to drill home from 10 meters.
Yokohama had a penalty shout of its own waved away after Shunsuke Nakamura went down following a weaving run, the former Celtic favorite then creating space for himself again, only to shoot into the side netting.
Thomas atoned for his earlier blunder with good saves from Hyodo and Nakamura and after Melbourne were denied by a fine save from Enomoto, Hyodo made it 3-1, steering his shot on the turn into the left-hand corner with a minute left. There was still time for Jeggo to net just after the restart, but Marinos held on for three points.
Marinos lost 3-0 away to Jeonbuk and they face the South Koreans in their next game here on April 15.
“We know we have to make it two wins in a row but we are just taking each game as it comes. We lost our first game (to Jeonbuk) and we will be out for revenge,” said Ito.
Cerezo have five points, while Buriram have two. China’s Shandong Luneng and South Korea’s Pohang Steelers both had five points ahead of their match being played later.