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Sagan end winless run with victory over S-Pulse

Kyodo

Sagan Tosu won their first J. League first-division game since March 31, beating Shimizu S-Pulse 3-1 on Sunday.

Riki Harakawa, Yuji Ono and An Yong-woo scored for Sagan, who moved off the bottom of the J1 table with the win at rain-soaked Best Amenity Stadium.

Harakawa opened the scoring from the penalty spot after S-Pulse’s Yosuke Kawai was called for a handball.

Kawai was trying to challenge Harakawa in the penalty area when he lost his footing on the greasy pitch. As Kawai went sliding out of control across Harakawa’s path, the forward fired a cross that inadvertently hit the defender’s arm.

Harakawa’s penalty was nearly saved after a dive by goalkeeper Yuji Rokutan, but the ball bounced off his arm backward into the goal.

S-Pulse drew level through an own goal five minutes later, when right back Takahiro Iida raced down the flank. With footing at a premium, his cross passed the front of the goal and eluded both ‘keeper Shuichi Gonda and an S-Pulse attacker. Defender Yutaka Yoshida got to the ball, but slid awkwardly and directed it into his own goal.

The visitors wasted a chance to take the lead on a 24th-minute free kick when S-Pulse defender Freire began the play standing offside. The Brazilian was left holding the bag again two minutes later, when he stood rooted to his feet at the penalty spot next to Ono, who rose to head in a Yoshida cross to make it 2-1.

Looking for a quick equalizer, S-Pulse pushed forward at the start of the second half, opening up space for Sagan counters, resulting in An’s 51st-minute strike. An raced down the right and crossed the ball to fellow midfielder Yoshiki Takahashi. After drawing in the defense for an instant, Takahashi delivered a slick back-heel to An who scored for the second-straight game.

Sagan finished the game with 10 men following Ono’s second yellow for a studs-high slide into Freire in the 78th minute.

Later in the afternoon, Takuma Nishimura’s brace sealed Vegalta Sendai’s 3-1 win at Shonan Belmare. Vegalta moved up to seventh in the league with their first win since April 11.

Goals from Toshihiro Aoyama and Patric saw leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima beat Vissel Kobe 2-0 at home and move eight points clear of second-placed FC Tokyo. Consadole Sapporo are another point back in third.