HIROSHIMA – Two exquisite goals by midfielder Junya Ito set relegation-threatened Kashiwa Reysol on the road to a 3-0 J. League first-division win at Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Saturday.
With a strong wind at his back, Ito broke the ice at Edion Stadium in the 23rd minute when Sanfrecce ‘keeper Takuto Hayashi punched away Cristiano’s curling corner, volleying home from just outside the penalty area as the ball floated down.
“Because of that wind, I wanted to be aggressive in attack and I think that put me in a good position to score,” said Ito, who was named on Thursday to Japan’s squad for two upcoming friendlies against Panama and Uruguay.
He quickly added his second in the 27th minute from virtually the same spot, trapping a headed clearance that was held up in the wind before smashing it on the hop into the top of the net.
“The ball fell to me and my shot went in just the way I imagined it would,” Ito said. “This win is a plus, but we still need to fight hard in every game to ensure we stay up.”
Starting the day next to last in the league, Reysol’s first win since Aug. 25 left them on 33 points with a chance of escaping the relegation zone when the weekend’s games are finished.
The hosts, winless now in four straight games and having forfeited their place at the top of the table last weekend, had more possession but were unable to capitalize.
Kenya international Michael Olunga virtually ensured the points for Reysol in the 35th minute, collecting a perfect through ball from Cristiano and rounding the Sanfrecce back line on the left before drilling a low shot past Hayashi at the far post.
Elsewhere, Reysol’s fellow strugglers Gamba Osaka won their Osaka derby at Cerezo 1-0, while Vissel Kobe snapped a five-game losing skid with a 1-1 home draw to last-place club V-Varen Nagasaki.
Sagan Tosu replaced Reysol in 17th place, losing 1-0 at home to Shonan Bellmare.