CHIBA — Norwegian striker Frode Johnsen marked his Nagoya Grampus Eight debut with two goals in a 3-2 victory away to JEF United Chiba on Sunday evening.

News photo Nagoya forward Frode Johnsen celebrates with teammates after scoring what became the game-winning goal
on 78 minutes against JEF United Chiba at Fukuda Denshi Arena on Sunday. Grampus Eight won 3-2.

The former Norway international scored a dazzling diving header in first half injury time to put Nagoya 1-0 up at Fukuda Denshi Arena and rounded off the scoring by crashing in a close-range winner on 78 minutes.

Japan World Cup striker Seiichiro Maki drew JEF level on 53 minutes, with Yuto Sato putting the home side ahead a minute later before Korean Kim Jung Woo equalized for the visitors on 75 minutes.

The 32-year-old Johnsen was recently signed from Norwegian side Rosenborg and quickly showed why he could be the answer to Nagoya’s goal-scoring problems.

The Toyota team had scored a paltry 15 goals in 15 games going into Sunday, with Keiji Tamada top scorer with just three goals.

Coach Sef Vergoossen was pleased his painstaking search for a solution to his team’s lack of goals led to the signing of Johnsen.

“We worked hard to try to find the right striker for us, and now we have him,” Vergoossen said. “The pressure was high (on the club), and sometimes if a striker doesn’t score for his first three games you have a problem.

“But Johnsen is an important player, he is a good header of the ball, has good intelligence and I know his behavior and character. I am very happy for him.”

The victory gave Grampus Eight their first back-to-back wins of the season moved them away from the drop zone and above Sanfrecce Hiroshima into 14th place on 17 points from 16 games, while JEF stays in 6th place with 26 points.

JEF’s new coach Amar Osim, son of new Japan coach Ivica Osim, leads JEF into this week’s A3 Champions Cup after presiding over two wins and two defeats in his first four matches in charge.

The Chiba side plays Korean K-League champion Ulsan Hyundai on Wednesday in the competition’s first matchup.

The A3 Champions Cup brings together the top teams in the J. League, Korean K-League and Chinese C-League, with JEF added to the mix as Nabisco Cup holders. Gamba Osaka and Dalian Shide are the other teams in the tournament.

JEF had the lion’s share of possession in a dreary first half in front of 16,961 supporters, with Mario Haas going closest to breaking the deadlock when his rising half-volley from 25 meters whistled over Seigo Narazaki’s crossbar.

It was the visitors who took the lead, though, when new signing Johnsen, having hitherto contributed nothing to the sorry spectacle, connected with a whipped-in left-wing cross from Keito Sugimoto and saw his spectacular diving header cannon off the crossbar and into the net for his first J. League goal.

The hosts drew level on 53 minutes when Maki swept in a right-wing cross from Koki Mizuno from close range for his ninth goal of the season.

Sato made it 2-1 a minute later when he strode on to a loose ball on the edge of the area after good work by Haas and Maki and guided the ball past Narazaki.

Kim forced home Nagoya’s equalizer on 75 minutes after a scramble in the JEF penalty area before Johnsen crashed home the winner three minutes later from point-blank range.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Yokohama F. Marinos moved into 11th place in the standings with a 2-0 win over Albirex Niigata at Nissan Stadium.

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