KASHIWA, CHIBA PREFECTURE - Undefeated Sanfrecce Hiroshima added three more points Sunday after digging in to beat Kashiwa Reysol 1-0 in the J. League.
A lackluster first half from Kashiwa and key saves by Sanfrecce goalkeeper Takuto Hayashi earned the first division leaders their fifth win in six matches.
After Takuya Wada sent a right cross over the box in the 17th minute, Sanfrecce defender Sho Sasaki picked up the stray ball and blasted it past ‘keeper Kazushige Kirihata into the top right of the net.
“We all worked hard today. My teammates created that chance, and I moved up. I’m glad I could do well in that situation,” said Sasaki, who scored his first goal of the season.
Kashiwa attacked in the second half and had a good chance to equalize when forward Ryohei Yamazaki was brought down by Wada in the 75th to earn a penalty kick, but Hayashi stopped Cristiano’s shot to the bottom right for the crucial save.
“We played extremely well in the first half and wanted that second goal, but after we let it end at 1-0, we let our opponents take the initiative in the second half,” Sanfrecce manager Hiroshi Jofuku said. “But Kashiwa are a strong side, so that is going to happen.”
Sanfrecce have yet to lose this season and lead the league with 16 points.
In other games, a hat-trick from Diego Oliveira and goals by Keigo Higashi and Kensuke Nagai lifted visiting FC Tokyo to a 5-2 over winless first-division debutant V-Varen Nagasaki.
Winless Gamba Osaka suffered their fifth defeat 1-0 at Suita Stadium to Vissel Kobe on Shuhei Otsuki’s injury-time goal.