HIROSHIMA – Two goals in the dying minutes by Manabu Saito and Sho Ito saw Yokohama Marinos snatch a 2-1 win on Tuesday over Sanfrecce Hiroshima, while Kawasaki Frontale also came from behind to beat Cerezo Osaka by the same score as J. League action resumed after a two-month break for the World Cup.
In the pouring rain at Hiroshima’s Edion Stadium, Shunsuke Nakamura had a half-chance for the visitors in the very first minute when the ball dropped nicely for him in the box, but he snatched at it and blasted wide.
Yokohama goalkeeper Tetsuya Enomoto plucked an early corner out of the air, while at the other end Takuto Hayashi was out quick to collect in the 25th minute after Tsukasa Shiotani lost possession to Saito on the edge of the area.
But otherwise neither ‘keeper had much to do, as both teams knocked the ball around in midfield and lacked ideas in the final third.
In the 34th minute Satoru Yamagishi had a clear chance to put the hosts ahead when a mix-up down the left sent him free into the box, but instead of testing Enomoto he whipped his shot across the goalmouth and out of harm’s way.
The uninspiring fare continued after the break, though Hiroshima began to show greater purpose. Two quick free-kicks for the hosts on either flank came to nothing, but the deadlock was shortly broken in the 56th minute when Yuzo Kobayashi headed a cross under pressure back into the six-yard box and Naoki Ishihara pounced to drive home an angled volley.
Not until the 65th minute did Yokohama have a real shot on target, when Ito unleashed from 20 meters, but Hayashi got down well to hold it. Ito was deprived again in the 77th by a last-ditch sliding tackle by Hiroki Mizumoto.
But Hiroshima paid the ultimate price for sitting back as Marinos applied some late pressure when Kobayashi lobbed the ball into a crowded box and Saito set it up with his knee and spun to volley home.
Then in the last minute of time added on, Ito drove in the winner after Hayashi had rushed out to save during the last attack of the match and could only parry the ball into his path.
In Osaka, Jun Ando put Cerezo ahead in the 19th minute, but two goals after the break — by Yoshito Okubo on the hour mark and Jun Kanakubo in the 76th — gave Kawasaki the upper hand, and after Takumi Minamino was sent off 12 minutes from time there was no way back for the hosts.