SAPPORO – Jay Bothroyd scored a pair of headed goals Saturday to lead Consadole Sapporo in a 5-2 win over Shonan Bellmare.
Starting up front alongside Japan forward Musashi Suzuki, the 190-cm Bothroyd found the net in the 21st and 71st minutes at Atsubetsu Stadium to help keep Sapporo within striking distance of the top three.
Consadole defender Ryosuke Shindo opened the scoring before Kazunari Ono pulled a goal back for the visitors ahead of the break. Substitute Anderson Lopes and Thailand playmaker Chanathip Songkrasin netted late for Mihailo Petrovic’s side.
The 37-year-old Bothroyd, who spent two months sidelined with a thigh strain earlier in the season, praised his teammates for pulling together for their first league win since June 22.
“It was a great team performance today. We haven’t got the right results in the past few games but we’ve been working really hard this week, and over the last few weeks, and today it all came together,” Bothroyd said.
Playing on the right side of a back three, central defender Shindo headed the opener off a ball over the top from Akito Fukumori in the 18th minute.
Bothroyd quickly doubled the advantage when he won an aerial battle to head past Shonan goalkeeper Yota Akimoto off a perfectly weighted cross from winger Kosuke Shirai.
“We’ve worked on these kinds of things in training. I’ve been practicing with (Shirai). It was a great cross,” Bothroyd said.
Cho Kwi-jea’s men reduced the margin late in the half when Sapporo goalkeeper Gu Sung-yun let a corner kick slip from his fingertips, allowing Ono to nod into an open net at the back post.
The South Korean custodian earned a measure of redemption early in the second half when he produced an excellent save to deny Japan under-20 midfielder Mitsuki Saito.
Bothroyd netted his second when he beat Akimoto to an aerial pass from Fukumori. The one-time England international went down clutching his back after the goal and was substituted for Lopes.
The club’s top scorer this season, Lopes netted his ninth of the campaign in the 80th minute with an assist from Chanathip.
Chanathip then found the net on a counterattack four minutes later for his second goal of the season.
Ryunosuke Noda completed the scoring with an injury-time consolation goal for the visitors.
In Saturday’s other matches, Edigar Junio and Marcos Junior scored in Yokohama F. Marinos’ 2-0 win at 15th-place Vissel Kobe. Marinos remain second on 39 points, three behind FC Tokyo, which won 2-0 at Shimizu S-Pulse.
Forward Takashi Usami scored his first goal since returning to Gamba Osaka following a three-year stint in Germany, an injury-time equalizer in a 2-2 draw at Nagoya Grampus, who are winless since May 12.
Cerezo Osaka and Vegalta Sendai finished scoreless at Yanmar Stadium, while the Urawa Reds defeated Jubilo Iwata 3-1 behind goals by Shinzo Koroki, Daiki Hashioka and Kazuki Nagasawa.
Sagan Tosu remain at the bottom of the table following a 2-1 road loss against the Kashima Antlers, who moved up to third place ahead of idle Kawasaki Frontale. Paulinho rescued struggling Matsumoto Yamaga with a 95th-minute goal in a 2-2 home draw with Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
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