HIROSHIMA – South Korean striker Cho Dong-geon scored a strong contender for goal of the season to give Sagan Tosu a 1-0 win at struggling Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the J. League first division on Sunday night.
Substitute Cho secured Tosu its first away league victory of the campaign in the 75th minute with a sensational strike from just over the halfway line, increasing Hiroshima’s relegation fears in the process.
The result put Tosu on 27 points in 10th place in the table, while three-time champion Hiroshima remains second from bottom with 11 points, five adrift of the safety zone.
“Hiroshima are struggling in the standings but we know that they are still a strong team and we prepared with that in mind,” said Tosu manager Massimo Ficcadenti.
“I think our performance was worthy of the win and that is something that hopefully we can build on.”
Hiroshima twice came close to breaking the deadlock in first-half injury time through new signings Daiki Niwa and his former Gamba Osaka teammate Patric.
Yoshiki Takahashi made a crucial goal-line clearance to deflect Niwa’s shot out for a corner and Patric then flashed a header just wide of the post from the resulting set piece.
The home side continued to press after the break and Kosei Shibasaki sent a free header wide with 17 minutes left before Sagan went ahead against the run of play.
Yohei Toyoda won the ball and fed Cho, who spotted Hiroshima goalkeeper Hirotsugu Nakabayashi off his line and sent a long-range shot sailing over his head and in off the crossbar.
“I saw the keeper’s position and just hit it,” Cho said. “We have won our first away game of the season and hopefully this will put us on a roll.”
Hiroshima’s new manager, Jan Jonsson, insisted there were positives to be taken from the performance, despite the defeat.
“We were a little bit passive in the beginning but after that I don’t know how many chances we created, 10 or 15, so I can’t be more pleased with the performance,” he said.
“But of course we need to improve everything and just the thing is to score goals. They (Tosu) scored from almost no chances.”
In Sunday’s other games, Yoshihiro Nakano rescued a point for Vegalta Sendai with a 92nd-minute equalizer in a 1-1 draw at home to Kashiwa Reysol. FC Tokyo’s match at home to bottom club Albirex Niigata also finished 1-1, Peter Utaka’s 66th-minute goal canceling out Thiago Galhardo’s opener.
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