YOKOHAMA – Brazilian striker Anderson Lopes earned a vital point for troubled Sanfrecce Hiroshima with a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw away to in-form Yokohama F Marinos in the J. League first division on Saturday night.
Playing their first game since Hajime Moriyasu stepped down in midweek as manager of the three-time champions, Sanfrecce fell behind when Marinos substitute Naoki Maeda headed in with nine minutes left.
But Lopes came up with his third goal in two games to earn Hiroshima a share of the spoils in the dying seconds and deny Marinos a sixth straight win.
Hiroshima remains in the relegation zone though, five points from safety. Marinos, meanwhile, are fifth on 33 points, five behind leaders Cerezo Osaka, who came from behind to beat Kashiwa Reysol 2-1 at home thanks to Brazilian midfielder Souza’s 70th-minute winner.
Chances were at a premium in a pedestrian first half played out in punishing heat at Nissan Stadium.
Kosei Shibasaki’s superb last-ditch tackle dispossessed Yokohama captain Manabu Saito on 24 minutes after a defensive lapse, and the visitors then went close when Yoshfumi Kashiwa brought a smart save out of Hiroki Iikura.
Iikura was called upon to pull off three more crucial stops to deny Lopes, Toshihiro Aoyama and Tsukasa Morishima in the second half.
Hiroshima looked the more likely to make the breakthrough, but Marinos scored against the run of play with a fine effort from Maeda, who controlled Saito’s pass and headed past keeper Hirotsugu Nakabayashi into the left corner.
But more drama was to come as Lopes produced a peach of a strike for the equalizer, picking up a half-clearance from former Japan defender Yuji Nakazawa and lashing home from 10 meters.
Champions Kashima Antlers dropped to second place after a 2-2 draw at FC Tokyo, Pedro Junior’s second goal of the night earning a point for Antlers, while Kawasaki Frontale moved up to third, Yu Kobayashi’s ninth goal of the season earning a 3-2 come-from-behind win at Sagan Tosu.
At the other end of the table, Omiya Ardija and fellow strugglers Consadole Sapporo played out a 2-2 draw at NACK5 Stadium.
In other games it was Shimizu S-Pulse 2, Gamba Osaka 0; Jubilo Iwata 1, Ventforet Kofu 0; Vissel Kobe 3, Vegalta Sendai 0.