Soccer / J. League

Kengo Kawamata scores lone goal as Jubilo top Bellmare to end seven-game winless streak

Kyodo

Kengo Kawamata struck ahead of halftime as Jubilo Iwata broke a seven-game winless streak to beat Shonan Bellmare 1-0 on Tuesday.

The clash at Yamaha Stadium, originally slated for Sept. 29, was the second league match between the pair this season to be rescheduled because of a typhoon.

Their first meeting at BMW Stadium on Sept. 26, a 0-0 draw, followed the postponement of the fixture on July 28.

In a battle of two sides seeking to stave off relegation, the home team created the greater number of attacking opportunities despite conceding the bulk of possession.

With three changes to the side that started Saturday’s 1-0 win over Yokohama F. Marinos in the Levain Cup final, Bellmare were forced to play from behind when Jubilo target man Kawamata scored in the 34th minute.

The 29-year-old forward hit what proved to be the winner following a three-man passing movement with midfielders Hiroki Yamada and Takuya Matsuura.

After a touch pass from Kawamata, Yamada sent a ball over the top to Matsuura, who headed into the path of Kawamata as he ran to the top of the box. The striker guided his first-time shot past Bellmare glove-man Yota Akimoto and in off the post.

Kawamata, who has returned to the national team picture under new Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu, credited his team’s defensive effort for the victory in front of 9,026.

“Everyone did their duty, running back and really putting in an effort. This is why we were able to keep a clean sheet,” said Kawamata, who thanked the Jubilo faithful for turning out on a Tuesday night.

“I know it was a makeup match on a weeknight, but a lot of fans came out to support us. It was great to see.”

Yamada missed a chance to put Jubilo ahead in the 20th-minute when he fired wide from inside the box after Kawamata found him with a header off a Matsuura cross.

With two minutes left in regulation, substitute forward Masaya Matsumoto came close to doubling the lead when he stole the ball at the edge of the box but was unable to beat Akimoto one-on-one from a tight angle.

The win moves Jubilo up to 13th, one point ahead of Bellmare, who are just three points clear of the relegation zone with four rounds remaining.