Jubilo Iwata overcame a sluggish performance to rally over shorthanded Tokyo Verdy 1969 3-2, thanks to Toshiya Fujita’s 85th-minute penalty on Sunday at Tokyo Stadium.
In the day’s other J. League Division One game, Gamba Osaka downed host Kyoto Purple Sanga 2-0 with Brazilian striker Magrao scoring both goals.
Jubilo joined FC Tokyo on top of the 16-team table after two rounds of the season, with Gamba right behind the two leaders on goal difference, followed by JEF United Ichihara, Division One newcomer Vegalta Sendai and Yokohama F. Marinos — all on six points.
Verdy impressed the 23,152 fans in the stands with its aggressive performance, and came close to opening the scoring in the 51st minute, through Brazilian Marquinhos, who mistimed his shot before Takuya Yamada and Atsushi Yoneyama were both denied by Jubilo’s Dutch goalkeeper Arno van Zwam.
Marquinhos finally put his team ahead in the 57th minute. The 25-year-old forward stole the ball from Jubilo defender Go Oiwa and drove up the field before firing home past van Zwam.
Six minutes later, however, Verdy was reduced to 10 men after forward Michiyasu Osada collected his second yellow card of the day for a foul on Iwata midfielder Takashi Fukunishi.
Jubilo equalized in the 76th minute through Naohiro Takahara, his first goal in the J. League since July 7 last year, and five minutes later, Jo Kanazawa put Jubilo ahead with a strike from close range.
A minute later, however, Verdy was back in the game as van Zwam’s clearance from a Marquinhos header deflected off Oiwa for an own-goal.
But with five minutes left in the game Verdy midfielder Koichi Sugiyama was judged to have handled the ball in the area, even though he was lying down after a collision at the time.
Fujita calmly slotted the spot kick into the back of the net for the winner.
Verdy manager Yukitaka Omi said, “We played fairly well in our first game at home so I’m disappointed with the defeat. Our players must be disappointed but that will give them further motivation and confidence for our next game.”
“It was nothing but three points (for the win). That was it. We played poorly and made many mistakes,” Jubilo manager Masakazu Suzuki lamented.
FC Tokyo wins again
SAITAMA — FC Tokyo midfielder Masamitsu Kobayashi struck the game’s sole goal in the 51st minute, to give the visitors a 1-0 win over the Urawa Reds at Saitama Stadium 2002 in J. League Division One action on Saturday night.
Playing without injured right midfielder Yukihiko Sato and struggling with the pitch conditions, the Tokyo players were unable to reproduce the form that had helped them to shock the league champion Kashima Antlers in their previous game.
However, the visitors broke the deadlock five minutes after the break as the Tokyo players followed the instructions of their manager, Hiromi Hara, “to keep it simple.” Division One debutante Daisuke Hoshi, who returned to Tokyo after a year on loan at Omiya Ardija, crossed the ball in from the left, to the advancing Kobayashi at the far post, who chipped the ball in for his third goal in two games this season.
Five minutes after the goal, Tokyo lost left-back Takahiro Shimotaira after he received his second yellow card of the day and then lost center back Tetsuya Ito to injury in the 85th minute. But the visitors held firm for their second straight win.
Saitama Stadium is a World Cup venue but its pitch condition has raised big concerns among both domestic and international soccer officials since the Japan-Italy friendly last November, when it was criticized by players from both sides.
After Saturday’s game, however, officials who look after the pitch confidently said that they have no intention to re-plant the turf. However, they added that a final decision would be made after consultations with experts from the Japan Football Association and JAWOC, possibly by mid April.
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