• Kyodo


J. League second-division Ventforet Kofu will take a two-goal advantage into the return leg of their Levain Cup playoff following a comprehensive 2-0, first-leg win over first-division Urawa Reds on Saturday.

Goals either side of halftime from defender Yuta Imazu and Kazuki Kozuka secured the victory in front of 10,337 at Yamanashi Chuo Bank Stadium for the only J2 side still in the competition.

Imazu opened the scoring with a 37th-minute header, connecting with a cross from the right side after a short corner. Kozuka doubled the lead six minutes after the break when striker Hidetaka Kanazono picked him out with a ball directly in front of the goal.

Although ninth in the J2 table, Ventforet are on a four-game win streak in the league and advanced to the league cup playoffs by finishing second in Group B behind Jubilo Iwata. Ventforet’s win over the Reds was their first in seven years. After the game, Reds supporters booed their team off the field.

In other action from the day’s four league cup playoff first-leg matches, Yokohama F. Marinos beat Vissel Kobe 4-2 at home thanks to goals from Yuki Otsu, Teruhito Nakagawa, Jun Amano and Hugo Viera. Wellington and Kazuma Watanabe scored for the visitors at Nippatsu Mitsuzawa Stadium.

At Panasonic Stadium, Hwang Ui-jo scored in the seventh minute and Gamba Osaka held on for a 1-0 victory over visiting Jubilo Iwata, while Tsukasa Umesaki’s brace paved the way for Shonan Bellmare’s 3-0 home win over Vegalta Sendai.

After both legs of the first-round playoff are completed, the four winning teams will advance to the next stage of the competition which will include the four J. League sides that qualified for this year’s Asian Champions League.

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