• Kyodo

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A first-half brace from Yutaka Tahara boosted second-division Kyoto Sanga’s bid for a swift return to the top flight with a 2-1 win over Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the first leg of the J. League promotion/relegation playoff on Wednesday.

Kyoto, looking to return to the first division at the first attempt after relegation last season, completely dominated at Nishikyogoku Stadium and two fine headers from Tahara put the home side firmly in control.

But Kyoto was twice denied by the woodwork in the second period and substitute Ryuichi Hirashige threw Hiroshima a first-division lifeline when he snatched a crucial away goal a minute from time.

“We have to look at where we went wrong in conceding that away goal,” said Kyoto captain and former Japan defender Ryuzo Morioka.

“We are all really disappointed about that but we will just have to try and take out our frustration on our opponents in the next leg (on Saturday),” he said.

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