Edigar Junio’s late goal helped Yokohama F. Marinos overcome their attacking struggles with a 1-0 win over Matsumoto Yamaga on Saturday in the 16th round of the J. League’s first division.

The result was a welcome one for manager Ange Postecoglou’s side, which wasted two leads in last week’s dramatic 3-2 defeat away at Shimizu S-Pulse.

“Last year we were a team who, maybe (today’s) game we wouldn’t have won. That’s the development of the team, and the team understanding that you need to be strong mentally, even when things aren’t going smoothly.

“When you lose you’re disappointed, but it’s how you react to that. It’s easy to lose confidence, but this year we’ve done a good job, when the result hasn’t been our way, of having a reaction the following week.”

Both teams missed key players heading into the match, with Yokohama’s Marcos Junior suspended following a red card last weekend and Matsumoto beset with injuries in addition to Daizen Maeda’s absence due to national team duty.

“In the last two matches we haven’t been able to play our style, but today we were able to do that more and we tried to get points,” reflected Yamaga boss Yasuharu Sorimachi. “I feel like we gave everything we were able to give today.

“I told the players that if we keep playing like this we’ll see results. There were some things we lacked but we have to keep at it, that’s the Matsumoto way.”

With rain pouring at kickoff but easing off as the first half progressed, neither team looked like it was content to settle for a low-scoring draw.

Matsumoto goalkeeper Tatsuya Morita was surely thankful for two key assists from the right post, which repelled Kota Yamada’s shot in the 11th minute and Jun Amano’s free kick in the 18th.

Masaki Miyasaka joined the woodwork party in the 26th minute when his shot from the edge of the box ricocheted off the crossbar and out of play, much to the relief of the home crowd and Marinos ‘keeper Park Il-gyu.

Yokohama struggled to break down Matsumoto’s defensive block in the second half, and even the crosses that did make it into the box failed to result in shots on target.

“We had too much of the ball in our half, we were moving side to side but not causing them problems,” noted Postecoglou. “It’s not easy. We’re a team that the opposition are trying to stop and we have to learn ways to overcome that.”

The host’s chance finally came in the 80th minute, when Yuki Otsu beat Yamaga defender Tomoki Imai to the ball on the left edge of the penalty box and toed a low pass to Edigar Junio, who deftly spun around to shake off his marker and hammered home from the six-meter line.

“In the second half we were able to move and create space, and I found confidence and kept working hard and when that pass came I’m glad I was able to make that turn and take the shot,” the Brazilian said.

His eighth goal of the season thrust him into the league lead, one ahead of teammate Marcos Junior and several other players. Five of those goals have come in the team’s last four matches since Edigar Junio’s return from a hamstring injury.

“He missed a good four or five games, which makes his record more impressive,” said Postecoglou. “He’s a presence, he’s physical but he also keeps the ball well for us.

“The first year in Japan for any foreigner is difficult, but ours have come in and done very well. It’s important because foreigners can add something different.”

Elsewhere on Saturday, Consadole Sapporo beat last-place Sagan Tosu 3-1 to extend their unbeaten streak to four games. Lucas Fernandes assisted Naoki Ishikawa’s opener as well as Jay Bothroyd’s first goal of the season, with Musashi Suzuki scoring late after Mu Kanazaki had made it 2-1 in the 70th minute.

At Kobe’s Noevir Stadium, Wellington gave Vissel Kobe the lead midway through the first half. David Villa’s sixth-minute goal for Vissel Kobe was neutralized by Oita Trinita’s Ado Onaiwu just two minutes later. But a late Seigo Kobayashi goal salvaged a draw for Trinita and denied a second straight win for new Vissel manager Thorsten Fink.

A thriller at Paloma Mizuho Stadium ended in a 2-1 victory for Shimizu S-Pulse over Nagoya Grampus. Kenta Nishizawa’s goal in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time came just four minutes after Nagoya’s Naoki Maeda had tied the game following Douglas’ 68th-minute opener.

Gamba Osaka also needed a late goal, with Ryotaro Meshino scoring in additional time for a 1-0 win over Shonan Bellmare at Panasonic Stadium Suita.

Cerezo Osaka cruised to a 2-0 win over Jubilo Iwata at Yanmar Stadium Nagai as Bruno Mendes and Kota Mizunuma made their way onto the scoresheet.

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