Soccer / J. League

Okubo lifts FC Tokyo to victory over Vegalta

Kyodo

Yoshito Okubo grabbed a brace as FC Tokyo beat Vegalta Sendai 2-0 away for its third straight league win on Sunday, a result that moves the club into fourth place in the J. League first division.

Okubo, the all-time J1 leading scorer with 175 goals, struck either side of the break following set pieces to put the Gasmen on 19 points from 10 games, two behind the Kashima Antlers.

“We know every game is going to be difficult . . . we are taking things a game at a time,” said Okubo. “We were away today but felt we could do well with plenty of running.”

Yojiro Takahagi scuffed a chance wide for Tokyo from just outside the box in the ninth minute, but Okubo opened the scoring in the 21st with a well-taken finish at Yurtec Stadium.

Naoki Sugai could only half-clear Kosuke Ota’s corner and the loose ball fell to Okubo. The former Japan striker connected cleanly to blast in a low half-volley, and although Sendai midfielder Shingo Tomita got a foot on the ball on the goal line, the shot had too much purchase and nestled in the bottom left-hand corner.

Sendai created a couple of opportunities as it looked to hit back, Hirotaka Mita dumping a free kick into the side netting before Kazuki Oiwa missed a decent chance to level in the 32nd minute.

But Sendai’s hopes of a comeback suffered a blow when Okubo pounced to strike from close range after Vegalta goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt fumbled Ota’s free kick.

“I am always looking to snap up loose balls coming from set pieces,” he said. “The ball came to me on both occasions today so I was able to put both chances away.”

Ventforet Kofu’s game at home to Jubilo Iwata finished goalless, while Daichi Kamada gave Sagan Tosu a 1-0 win at home to Yokohama F. Marinos.