Hotaru Yamaguchi netted a second-half brace, including the 86th-minute winner, as Vissel Kobe came from three goals down to beat Consadole Sapporo 4-3 in the J. League first division on Saturday.
The goal-fest at Sapporo Dome included a hat-trick for Anderson Lopes and three penalties, two of which the Brazilian forward converted late in the first half to give the hosts a 2-0 lead going into the break.
Lopes opened the scoring from the spot in the 45th minute, sending Kobe ‘keeper Daiya Maekawa the wrong way after 21-year-old midfielder Daiju Sasaki was penalized for knocking over Lucas Fernandes.
Kobe conceded its second penalty deep into injury time when Tetsushi Yamakawa was ruled to have felled Akito Fukumori, with Lopes converting in nearly identical fashion.
Lopes hit his hat-trick a minute into the second half, hitting the target from close range after Mihailo Petrovic’s men counterattacked from deep inside their own half.
Former Japan midfielder Yamaguchi struck back in the 53rd minute with his first goal of the season, latching onto a short pass from Yuya Nakasaka and firing home from the middle of the area.
Kyogo Furuhashi reduced the deficit four minutes later with the first of his two goals, winning possession off an ill-advised back pass by Sapporo defender Shunta Tanaka and rounding ‘keeper Kojiro Nakano.
Furuhashi put Atsuhiro Miura’s team on level terms after Sasaki earned a penalty when he was tripped by Nakano on a breakaway.
Sasaki was instrumental in setting up Kobe’s winner, breaking down the right wing and getting deep inside the area before finding Yamaguchi unmarked. The 30-year-old veteran of two World Cups was on target with a right-footed shot from the edge of the box that curled past a diving Nakano.
“It was a really tough game against very strong opposition. It’s rare to win after conceding three goals, but we were able to get the result,” Yamaguchi said.
The loss leaves Sapporo winless since its 5-1 opening round victory over Yokohama FC, while Vissel finished on a high note once again, after becoming the first team to take points off champion Kawasaki Frontale following a dramatic late goal in their 1-1 draw on Wednesday.
Kobe is still waiting for the return of captain and star playmaker Andres Iniesta from a thigh injury sustained during the Asian Champions League in December.
The 36-year-old former Barcelona great, who was expected to be out around four months following surgery, earlier this week tweeted pictures of himself running drills at a training ground.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.