SENDAI - Kunimitsu Sekiguchi scored a stunning goal for Vegalta Sendai to set his team on the way to a 2-0 victory over J. League leader FC Tokyo on Sunday.
Tokyo has failed to score in its last two league matches and has lost three of its last four games, but remains top of the first-division table with 33 points, three ahead of Yokohama F. Marinos and five ahead of two-time reigning champion Kawasaki Frontale, which has a game in hand.
Sekiguchi struck in the 74th minute goal from the left side of the penalty area. A superb long ball from Mozambique defender Simao Mate came close to connecting with forward Shun Nagasawa in the box but was cleared only as far as Sekiguchi.
Former Japan defender Sei Muroya was well placed to hold off Sekiguchi but got no help from his teammates. The Vegalta midfielder froze Muroya with some clever footwork, stepped to his right and unleashed a shot keeper Akihiro Hayashi could not stop.
“I was not far from the goal, and I felt that if I could throw Muroya off his timing I could get in a shot,” Sekiguchi said after Vegalta’s fifth straight win at Yurtec Stadium.
“With the great support we get here at home we feel we can’t lose. Before the game we all talked about playing good defense and that led to our goals.”
Ten minutes later, Sekiguchi looked to have set up Vegalta’s second with a cross, but Naoki Ishihara’s header was foiled by a good save from Hayashi.
Vegalta wrapped up the victory in the 88th minute, when substitute Ramon Lopes scored just two minutes after coming on. With the visitors pushing forward for an equalizer, right wing back Koji Hachisuka masterminded a slick counterattack and charged forward into space.
The defender laid off to Lopes on the edge of the area, and from there the Brazilian’s rocket found its target.
Although the visitors had the bulk of possession, they took only nine shots, none of which were on target.