YOKOHAMA – Vissel Kobe scored twice against the run of play Sunday to snatch a 2-1 comeback victory against Yokohama F. Marinos in the J. League.
Second-half substitute Kazuma Watanabe netted the winner in the 79th minute shortly after his teammate Hirotaka Mita equalized at Yokohama’s Nissan Stadium on an afternoon when the home side dominated possession and chances but came up short on the scoreboard.
For extended periods, Marinos exhibited the entertaining, possession-based soccer that made first-year head coach Ange Postecoglou one of the most successful managers of all time in the Australian domestic league, but their lack of finishing showed they are still a work in progress.
Postecoglou insisted his side was on the right track despite dropping into the relegation zone with its second straight loss.
“If the players keep working as hard as they have been, and play the football they have, the results will change,” Postecoglou said.
“We created opportunities but we’re not scoring goals and that keeps the opposition in the game. (Vissel) got a couple of chances toward the end and they got their goals.”
Jun Amano set up Olivier Boumal with a cross from the left wing to put Marinos ahead in the 58th minute. The Cameroonian midfielder evaded a tackle on the edge of the box with his first touch before beating Vissel keeper Kim Seung-gyu with his second.
The visitors equalized on a counterattack in the 67th minute, as Shuhei Otsuki made a break down the left side before finding Mita with a short cross directly in front of goal.
Kobe’s winner came after Otsuki made a run down the right before cutting inside and laying off a ball to the streaking Watanabe, who blasted a shot past Marinos custodian Hiroki Iikura from close range.
“I received a good pass, so I just ran in hard and put everything behind it,” said Watanabe, who spent the first half on the bench looking for ways to counteract Marinos’ ball dominance.
“(Marinos) did a good job of controlling possession (in the first half), but even when we got the ball, we weren’t playing good passes and our rhythm was a bit off.
“They played a high defensive line, so we needed to improve our passing to beat it.”
In other results Sunday, Sanfrecce Hiroshima extended their lead at the top of the J. League standings to seven points as Brazilian striker Patric scored both goals in a 2-0 victory away to Shonan Bellmare.
At Saitama Stadium, a Shinzo Koroki double helped Urawa Reds beat Shimizu S-Pulse 2-1 for their third straight league win since replacing manager Takafumi Hori with caretaker coach Tsuyoshi Otsuki.
Jubilo Iwata bounced back from their midweek loss to last-place Gamba Osaka by beating visiting Sagan Tosu 1-0 on a 57th-minute winner from midfielder Takuya Matsuura.