Soccer / J. League

FC Tokyo, Sagan Tosu battle to scoreless draw

Kyodo

FC Tokyo’s uphill battle for the J. League first division title failed to get any easier on Sunday after it was held to a scoreless draw at home by struggling Sagan Tosu.

Tokyo’s second straight scoreless draw left the third-place side winless in its last five league games and 13 points behind leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima with nine games left to play.

“We had plenty of chances but were unable to finish. We blew this,” said FC Tokyo defender Sei Muroya. “We were able to keep a clean sheet in our last game against Shonan — and there, too, we only needed one goal but didn’t get it. Still, if we keep plugging away like this, things will go our way.”

Sagan tried as best as it could to get the ball to former Spain international Fernando Torres, but FC Tokyo’s back line rarely gave the visitors a clear sight of the goal.

“We’re having trouble scoring, but everyone is positive about scoring in training and we believe the goals will come,” Tokyo manager Kenta Hasegawa said. “We were in some tough spots in tonight’s game, but our movement was really good in defense. Our back line was very solid.

“We’ve got nine games left and somehow we’re going to have to be more accurate with our shooting so we can win and get more points from those games.”

The result leaves FC Tokyo with 42 points, four behind second-place Kawasaki Frontale and one ahead of Consadole Sapporo in fourth place. Both Kawasaki and Sapporo have one game in hand.

At the other end of the table, Sagan remains in 16th, three points from safety but two ahead of Gamba Osaka in the second automatic relegation spot.