Kensuke Nagai’s first goal of the season gave FC Tokyo a 1-0 win on Sunday over Nagoya Grampus to replace the J. League leaders at the top of the first division.
Nagai scored against his former team to break the deadlock in the 54th minute at Ajinomoto Stadium, breaking away with the ball near the halfway line after a pass from captain Keigo Higashi and driving it home with just the keeper to beat.
“I knew I was going to get the ball from Keigo the moment I saw him, so I started running,” said Nagai.
“I thought we could win if we opened the scoring, so that was all I was aiming for,” he said. “I haven’t been able to score in a while, so I’m glad I was able to do it.”
Grampus had opened the season with three straight wins, with FC Tokyo just behind on two wins and a draw.
“The players did very well. The game was a clash between Nagoya’s defense and our speed, so it was all about which team would score more goals,” FC Tokyo manager Kenta Hasegawa said. “I’m glad Kensuke (Nagai) scored.”
In another first-division match on Sunday, Sagan Tosu beat visiting Jubilo Iwata 1-0 at Ekimae Real Estate Stadium. Spanish midfielder Isaac Cuenca drove in an injury-time header for his first J. League goal since joining Tosu ahead of this season.
At Sapporo Dome, Sho Ito completed a brace and Brazilian midfielder Leandro scored in Kashima Antlers’ 3-1 win over Consadole Sapporo.
At Noevir Stadium, former Germany star Lucas Podolski opened the scoring but Vissel Kobe finished with a 1-1 draw against visiting Shimizu S-Pulse.
At Edion Stadium, Yoshifumi Kashiwa’s 61st-minute goal made the difference as Sanfrecce Hiroshima earned a 1-0 win over promoted visitors Matsumoto Yamaga.
At Yanmar Stadium, Cerezo Osaka took a second-half lead against Urawa Reds but lost 2-1 after late goals by Shinzo Koroki and former Cerezo striker Kenyu Sugimoto.
At Todoroki Stadium, defending champion Kawasaki Frontale remained winless in the J1 after Gamba Osaka’s Genta Miura scored the 1-0 winner in second-half stoppage time.
At Showa Denko Dome Oita, last year’s second-division champion Oita Trinita recovered an impressive 2-0 win over visiting Yokohama F. Marinos as Noriaki Fujimoto recorded two goals shortly before the hour mark for Oita’s first home win this year.
At BMW Stadium, Masahito Onoda and Miki Yamane scored for the host as Shonan Bellmare held on to beat Vegalta Sendai 2-1.
The first division will resume on March 29 after this week’s international break.