Kota Mizunuma scored twice as FC Tokyo beat Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG 2-1 at home in the first leg of the last 16 of the Asian Champions League on Tuesday night.
Mizunuma opened the scoring late in the first half with a free kick before Tokyo was pegged back when Wu Lei equalized from close range.
But Mizunuma volleyed home in the 65th minute to give the J. League side a slender advantage to take to China for next week’s second leg.
“I am happy we won,” said Mizunuma. “I haven’t been delivering results so I was really determined to do that in today’s match.
“I just tried to wallop my shot for the first goal and for the second goal I got a good connection on it. I’m relieved. We have got the home win and I hope the fans will come and watch us away in the second leg like they did in Vietnam (in the last group-stage game against Binh Duong.)
Tokyo has struggled recently in the J. League and is in 12th place in the first-stage standings, having posted just one win in its last six matches.
But the Gasmen made the most of the early running and Mizunuma had his shot charged down after four minutes, before Ryoichi Maeda tested Shanghai goalkeeper Yan Junling with a glancing header.
Yan came up with a crucial stop to deny Takuji Yonemoto at the far post on 11 minutes and after Maeda flashed another header, wide the home side finally broke the deadlock on 43 minutes.
Mizunuma stepped up to drill the free kick in low and the ball took a deflection off Shanghai defender Kim Ju-young on its way into the back of net.
It did not take long for the visitors to hit back, though, as Wu swept in the equalizer 10 minutes into the second period, the striker snapping up the rebound after the Tokyo ‘keeper could only parry a shot from Lu Wenjun.
Naotake Hanyu fizzed a shot over the bar as Tokyo looked to reclaim the advantage and Mizunuma put it back in the lead for good, connecting with a cross from Yuhei Tokunaga to beat Yan with a volley that was too hot for the goalkeeper to handle.
Former champion Urawa Reds, the other Japanese team involved in the knockout phase, take on FC Seoul at Saitama Stadium in their first leg on Wednesday night.