V-Varen Nagasaki upset FC Tokyo 1-0 with an adventurous display of attacking soccer Friday night, thwarting the second-place side’s hopes of closing the gap on J. League leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
The loss was just the first in 10 matches for FC Tokyo, which was forced onto the back foot by a visiting side that came into the clash 13 places beneath them.
Nagasaki executed an aggressive game plan from the outset and was a deserving victor after Juan Manuel Delgado slammed home the winner with 13 minutes left at Ajinomoto Stadium.
After intercepting an attempted clearance, V-Varen playmaker Masato Kurogi chipped a pass into the box to Musashi Suzuki, who lofted a header into the path of the 188-cm Delgado.
His initial strike was cleared from the line by midfielder Keigo Higashi, but the ball found its way back to the Spaniard, who smashed his second attempt into the back of the net.
“We really needed this victory. This stadium is not an easy place to win, in fact I think it’s quite difficult, so I’m really happy to get the result,” Delgado said.
“From the first half we played some good football and I’m glad we were able to keep it up for the 90 minutes.”
The visitors squandered a chance to take the lead in the 32nd minute when winger Hijiri Onaga was unable to redirect a headed cross from Ryutaro Iio into an open net.
Left back Ryota Takasugi moments later forced a diving save from FC Tokyo ‘keeper Takuo Okubo, lashing a shot from the edge of the box as the hosts looked to clear following an attempt by Takashi Sawada.
Ten minutes after the break, halftime substitute Cayman Togashi prevented the visitors taking the lead from a corner when he cleared Suzuki’s headed shot on the goal line.
FC Tokyo had an opportunity to take the lead through Diego Oliveira in the 72nd minute, but central defender Jordy Buijs deflected his close-range shot out for a corner with a desperation block.
V-Varen remain 15th, level on points with Kashiwa Reysol but behind on goal difference, while FC Tokyo stay second, seven points adrift of Sanfrecce.