SENDAI – A second-half double from Hisato Sato helped move Vegalta Sendai level on points with Yokohama F. Marinos at the top of the J. League after coming from behind to beat Shimizu S-Pulse 3-1 at home on Sunday.
Sendai moved onto seven points from three games and leapfrogged Kashima Antlers, whose 100 percent record ended in Aichi Prefecture after going down 1-0 to Nagoya Grampus Eight in Sunday’s other fixture.
In Miyagi Prefecture, Shimizu took a 44th-minute lead through Brazilian striker Tuto but Sato capitalized on a defensive mix up to equalize in the 63rd minute and swept home a Teruo Iwamoto through ball to complete his brace seven minutes later.
Japan striker Yoshiteru Yamashita staked his claim for a place in the starting line up for the national team’s friendly away to South Korea on Wednesday with a third in the last minute to seal the win and maintain Sendai’s unbeaten start to the season.
The result left Shimizu, tipped by some as an outside bet to win league honors in 2003, second from bottom and still looking for its first league win.
Kashima had the better first-half chances at Toyota Stadium and Nagoya goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki did well to beat a fierce shot from fellow Japan international Koji Nakata around his right-hand post in the 16th minute.
Nagoya came out with more purpose after the interval and its resilience was rewarded 11 minutes from time when Austrian striker Ivica Vastic rose to guide Naoshi Nakamura’s cross into the top corner to give his side its first win of the league campaign.
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