Sapporo – Japan midfielder Hotaru Yamaguchi netted a brace to lead Vissel Kobe to a 3-2 win against Consadole Sapporo in the J. League first division on Sunday.
Yamaguchi found the net in both halves of an entertaining clash at Sapporo Dome, equalizing after Vissel went down 1-0 and later hitting the winner with an assist from former Samurai Blue teammate Gotoku Sakai in the 62nd minute.
Consadole forward Takuma Arano also struck twice but could not prevent Mihailo Petrovic’s side from its first loss since the top flight resumed on July 4 following a roughly four-month break prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
He put Consadole up 1-0 in the 29th minute when he capitalized on a blunder by Vissel defender Thomas Vermaelen, who awkwardly headed the ball straight to Arano in front of goal while trying to intercept a pass.
Yamaguchi equalized two minutes later, driving home a low strike from the edge of the box off a short cross from Douglas.
Vissel took a 2-1 lead in the 45th minute when Andres Iniesta lofted a long ball from deep within his own half toward a flying Daigo Nishi, who played a square pass that Douglas tapped home from directly in front.
Arano netted his second from close range off a counterattack in the 49th minute, beating Vissel keeper Hiroki Iikura in a race to a ball from Yoshiaki Komai.
Thorsten Fink’s men set up the winner from a quick counterattack, with Sakai playing a diagonal ball into the box that Yamaguchi side-footed past Consadole keeper Takanori Sugeno.
“It was a nice ball from Gotoku. The goal came about as a result of us applying pressure up front. When the final pass came, all I was thinking about was putting it in, so I’m glad I did,” Yamaguchi said.
“It was a tough game. I’m happy to come away with the win.”
The victory moves Vissel up to ninth in the table, one place behind Consadole on goal difference.