KASHIWA, CHIBA PREF. - Brazilian striker Jo scored the winner with an assist from countryman Gabriel Xavier as Nagoya Grampus beat 10-man Kashiwa Reysol 1-0 Friday night in a clash between two sides fighting to avoid relegation from the J. League first division.
With Grampus coming into the match at Sankyo Frontier Kashiwa Stadium third from the bottom in the standings on 31 points, and Reysol two places above them on 33, both clubs were desperate to boost their chances of survival with a victory.
Already trailing thanks to Jo’s 35th-minute goal, Reysol’s hopes sank in the 77th-minute when defender Toshiya Takagi was sent off for his second yellow card.
After losing a battle for the ball against Naoki Maeda, Takagi pulled the Grampus midfielder down by his shirt and was given his marching orders.
Reysol were on target in the 11th minute when Ryuta Koike finished a well-orchestrated passing movement with a back heel to Hidekazu Otani, who struck from the top of the arc, forcing a diving save from Grampus’ Australian goalkeeper Mitch Langerak.
Reysol ‘keeper Kazushige Kirihata produced a big save in the 30th minute when he stopped a close-range effort from Keiji Tamada, who had been set up on the edge of the area with a cross from Yuki Kobayashi.
Kirihata was unable to stop Grampus going ahead five minutes later, however, when Jo and Xavier picked apart the defense with a one-two pass that enabled Jo to score from close range.
The Brazilian striker scored while running into goal next to teammate Maeda, who also made a play for the ball, and it was not immediately clear who got the decisive touch.
“We were able to break through their defense with our passing. At first I wasn’t sure who got the final touch, me or Maeda, but the important thing is that we got the win,” said Jo.
The 31-year-old journeyman — who has played for a host of clubs including Manchester City and CSKA Moscow — said Grampus needed to win all six of its remaining matches.
“Getting a win on the road was huge. Still, we just have to keep moving forward, one game at a time,” Jo said. “It’s really important that we see it through right to the end (of the season).”
With Reysol leading the shot count 23-13, Langerak played a critical role in keeping Grampus ahead. Among his eight saves was an excellent 43rd-minute stop to foil Yusuke Segawa inside the box.