Asano strikes twice to lift Hiroshima in ACL

Kyodo

Takuma Asano struck twice as J. League champions Sanfreece Hiroshima finally put three points on the board with a 3-0 win over Thailand’s Buriram United in Group F in the Asian Champions League on Wednesday night.

Hiroshima had not won in any competition since lifting the Xerox Super Cup in the J. League curtain-raiser against Gamba Osaka last month, but Japan Under-23 striker Asano put Sanfrecce on their way with a fine solo first-half effort.

Asano repeated the feat early in the second period before Kohei Shimizu sealed victory with a clinical strike in the 81st minute.

“It was a hard game but we pulled together and I am glad we could win,” said Asano. “We can build on this. There are more games still to come and I want us to fight together.”

The result after three games leaves Hiroshima six points behind group leaders FC Seoul, who whipped China’s Shandong Luneng (six points) 4-1 away.

“I think the players did well amid the pressure that was on us to win at home,” said Hiroshima manager Hajime Moriyasu. “I want to thank our fans for the support they gave us.”

Hiroshima went close to breaking the deadlock after seven minutes, but Asano scuffed wide after Buriram goalkeeper Siwarak Tedsungnden parried a low drive from Gaku Notsuda.

Notsuda forced Siwarak into another key save and the home side’s dominance finally paid off in the 42nd minute, Asano galloping onto a through ball from Takumi Miyayoshi and steering in the opener at the near post.

Asano then put Hiroshima in total control 10 minutes into the second half with a carbon copy of his first goal, with Notsuda this time setting him up with a clever flick.

“It was a good ball (from Miyayoshi for the first goal) and all I had to do was put it away,” said Asano. “Gaku also sent me a good one for the second. Both goals were put on a plate for me.”

Asano, though, felt he should have had a hat-trick.

“I can’t be satisfied with this performance,” he said. “I want to score as many goals as I can and I could have scored more.”

Notsuda was also involved in the third goal, his pass finding Kosei Shibasaki, who laid the ball back for Shimizu to drill into the right-hand corner.

In Tuesday’s games involving Japanese clubs, FC Tokyo was held to a scoreless draw at home to China’s Jiangsu while Gamba Osaka lost 2-1 away to Shanghai SIPG.