YOKOHAMA – Two goals from Sho Ito and a pair of Olivier Boumal assists delivered a much-needed win for Yokohama F. Marinos as they topped Kashiwa Reysol 3-1 on Saturday night.
After suffering five defeats and picking up just two wins on the road in August, Marinos was in desperate need of a victory at Nissan Stadium in order to begin September on a high note and stay above the increasingly perilous relegation fray.
“It was a good performance, just as it was on Wednesday,” Marinos manager Ange Postecoglou said after the match. “We didn’t get what we deserved on Wednesday (in a 2-1 loss to Shimizu S-Pulse) but tonight we did.
“We played well, we dominated the game. We scored three goals, hit the post a couple of times. We played our football.”
Recent Samurai Blue call-up Junya Ito gave Kashiwa its first good chance of the game early in the 5th minute when his shot off a counter from right of the penalty area went slightly wide of the post.
Making his first start since the Aug. 11 Kanagawa Derby, Cameroonian striker Boumal nearly buried the opener in the 11th minute when his shot ricocheted off the crossbar.
The deadlock finally broke in the 30th minute when Boumal crossed from the left side to Ito, who beat Reysol goalkeeper Kazushige Kirihata to the ball and slid it into the back of the net.
“We have to read the movement of our teammates,” Boumal reflected after the match. “When I saw that Sho was free I closed my eyes and sent the ball to him.”
Ken Matsubara nearly made it 2-0 in the 56th minute when his attempt from distance was parried off the post by Kirihata, only for Shinnosuke Hatanaka to be whistled offside when he ran up to stuff in the rebound.
Just three minutes later it was Boumal again playing provider, trapping a cross from Ito and centering it to Jun Amano whose aim was true from about 10 meters out.
Reysol were not about to go down without a fight and reduced the deficit to 2-1 in the 72nd minute when Michael Olunga controlled the ball from a throw-in, cleverly turning on defender Thiago Martins to cross the ball to Yusuke Segawa in the six-yard box.
The 24-year-old easily scored his third goal of the season, and Reysol nearly tied the game moments later when the linesman raised his flag on a counterattack that concluded with Olunga’s shot.
The visitors’ momentum was not to last, however, and defender Park Jeong-su’s miscommunication with Kirihata in front of the Reysol net left Ito with little more to do than tap in his second goal of the match in the 78th minute and seal a much-needed result.
“It’s been a difficult year. We haven’t had a lot of consistency,” Postecoglou said. “We’ve been up and down, but we worked hard with the players to say that this is the type of team we want to be. It doesn’t matter the situation, today was the game we had to win.”
The result tied Marinos with Reysol at 29 points, lifting them to 14th place on goal difference as Reysol fell to 15th.
Elsewhere on Saturday, fourth-place Consadole Sapporo bested fifth-place Vissel Kobe 3-1 at Sapporo Dome. Kobe captain Lukas Podolski was shown a straight red card for a studs-up tackle on Kazuki Fukai shortly before halftime, while his teammate Andres Iniesta was taken off in the 55th minute. Consadole ace Ken Tokura scored his 10th of the season, marking the first time he has reached double digits in the first division.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima moved nine points clear at the top of the table with a 3-1 win over Kashima Antlers. Second-place Kawasaki Frontale remained at 46 after the defending champs lost 2-0 at relegation-threatened Gamba Osaka.
Cerezo Osaka moved up to fifth place with a 2-1 win at Urawa Reds, while Naoki Ishihara’s 95th-minute winner lifted Vegalta Sendai to a 2-1 victory against visiting Shimizu S-Pulse and into sixth place.