• Kyodo

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Albirex Niigata lost for the first time under new manager Wagner Lopes on Sunday, 2-1 away to Vegalta Sendai.

Niigata’s Thiago Galhardo broke the deadlock two minutes past the hour, but Crislan scored a quick brace, netting in the 83rd and 84th minutes for Sendai, which snapped a three-game winless drought and improved to 17 points.

Lopes won last weekend in his Albirex coaching debut, but the Albirex quickly reverted to old habits, losing for the ninth time from the first 13 games of the season.

Niigata is deep in the relegation zone, in 17th place on eight points, just one point from the bottom, currently occupied by Omiya Ardija.

Former Japan international Lopes lamented Albirex’s latest defeat, saying they needed to keep their composure better once Galhardo handed them the lead.

“The second half unfolded the way we wanted it to,” Lopes said. “We had some chances so we just needed to stay calm and try to keep our poise.

“We didn’t need to go long. We should have held on to the ball a bit more. We have to work on our decision making in training.”

In other J1 results, Cerezo Osaka closed within two points of leaders Kashiwa Reysol (27) after defeating Vissel 2-1 in Kobe, Kota Mizunuma hitting a 64th-minute game-winner.

Despite going up thanks to Yojiro Takahagi’s second-minute goal, FC Tokyo was frustrated at home by Ventforet Kofu, who forced the hosts to settle for a 1-1 draw.

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