Soccer / J. League

Late Cerezo Osaka goal sends FC Tokyo to first defeat of season


Bruno Mendes’ 78th-minute header ended FC Tokyo’s unbeaten record on Saturday as Cerezo Osaka held off the league leader 1-0 at home.

A long stretch of prolonged pressure on the visitors’ goal finally paid dividends when Mendes met Riku Matsuda’s cross from the right touch line and steered it in at the far post. It was the first goal Tokyo had conceded since April 14.

“Our opponents are the league leaders, so it was always going to be a very difficult game. I’m so happy that my goal was the winner,” Mendes said.

“We are coming off a derby loss and we want to reassert ourselves in the league,” he added, referring to Cerezo’s 1-0 defeat to Gamba Osaka on May 18.

The visitors ramped up the pressure in the waning minutes but hit two solid shots straight at keeper Kim Jin-hyeon, who held on to end FC Tokyo’s unbeaten run in the league at 12 matches.

“We weren’t able to get into the game, and some of that was due to Cerezo’s dogged possession. But frankly I thought we were a little sluggish,” FC Tokyo manager Kenta Hasegawa said. “But even at those times, you need to find a way to score one goal.”

Elsewhere, Consadole Sapporo were held to a scoreless draw by Gamba Osaka at Sapporo Dome, while at IAI Stadium Douglas completed a brace with an 89th-minute winner as Shimizu S-Pulse beat Vegalta Sendai 4-3 at home.