SEOUL – Brazilian forward Adriano added to the miseries of struggling J. League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Tuesday, when he scored a second-half hat trick for FC Seoul in a 4-1 Asian Champions League group-stage win.
It was a mixed day for J. League teams, as FC Tokyo secured three points in a 3-1 Group E home win over Vietnam’s Becamex Binh Duong.
Adriano has scored seven times in this year’s competition, including four goals in FC Seoul’s 6-0 opening-round demolition at Thailand’s Buriram United. He was a constant danger on a day when Sanfrecce could not retain possession at Seoul World Cup Stadium.
Sanfrecce, who lost their Group H opener a week ago at home, 2-1 to China’s Shandong Luneng, followed that by losing their J. League opener 1-0 at home to Kawasaki Frontale. Playing without captain and J. League MVP Toshihiro Aoyama or star striker Hisato Sato, Sanfrecce were in for a long day.
“Playing away, we expected a tough match,” said defender Hiroki Mizumoto, who wore the captain’s armband in Aoyama’s place.
“We have four games remaining, so we are not out of it. We’ll want to dig deep and show a much more solid effort in defense.”
The teams went into the intermission level after a 25th-minute opener by Sanfrecce defender Kazuhiko Chiba and a 31st-minute equalizer by Seoul’s Kim Won-sik.
Adriano began to take over four minutes into the second half. With the striker sprinting toward goal, Sin Jin-ho chipped a free kick just over the Sanfrecce wall. Adriano connected with his right foot and his volley broke the deadlock.
Seven minutes later, Ko Kwang-min threatened ‘keeper Takuto Hayashi’s left near post, but instead laid off for Adriano, who slipped his marker to poke home for his second.
The 28-year-old Brazilian completed his second straight hat trick in the 69th minute, running between Mizumoto and Chiba, who could only turn and watch as Adriano latched onto a bounding pass and rifled home.
At Ajinomoto Stadium, FC Tokyo owned the bulk of possession and was unlucky not to have won by a larger margin. The hosts peppered Bui Tan Truong’s goal for much of the game, but were forced to come from behind to improve to 1-1 in the ACL.
FC Tokyo’s Spanish forward Asenio Sandaza, who twice came close to scoring early, set up strike partner Nathan Burns with a headed pass, and the Australian equalized in the 50th minute. Sandaza missed a chance to make it 2-1 when Bui Tan Truong blocked his 66th-minute penalty, but the Binh Duong ‘keeper headed a corner from Ryoya Ogawa into his own net two minutes later.
Ogawa, a 19-year-old making his pro debut, put too much movement on his kick for Bui to handle. Bui missed with his right hand, and the ball ricocheted off his forehead and into the net. The ‘keeper dropped like a rock and had to be replaced.
Substitute Ryoichi Maeda made it 3-1 three minutes after coming on in the 81st minute, heading in another picturesque corner from Ogawa.
“To make my debut in an ACL game of such importance made me pretty nervous at first. But somehow we managed to fight through and win in good form and I’m pretty happy,” Ogawa said.
“I still lack what it takes to be an impact player, so my only thought was to play as hard as I could. I never imagined I could contribute so much.”