Football: J2 Kofu thrash Zhejiang, move closer to ACL knockout stage

J-League second-division outfit Ventforet Kofu took a big step toward the Asian Champions League knockout stage Wednesday with a 4-1 victory over China's Zhejiang FC at Tokyo's National Stadium.

Peter Utaka, Getulio, Masahiro Sekiguchi and Yoshiki Torikai found the net for Kofu, who avenged a 2-0 loss away to Zhejiang, currently third in Chinese top flight, in their Group H match on Oct. 25.

The J2 side moved to the top of the group on seven points from two wins, a draw and a loss, with goal difference separating them from second-place Melbourne City, who lost 1-0 to Thailand's Buriram United.

Kofu took the lead in the 17th minute after the 39-year-old Utaka's assured finish from Ryotaro Nakamura's through ball withstood a review for offside by the video assistant referee.

"I tried to take advantage behind the defense," said former Nigeria international Utaka. "With my speed, I knew I could be very dangerous against this team."

Getulio volleyed in the second from a Jumma Miyazaki cross in the first-half stoppage time to send the home side into the break leading 2-0.

Zhejiang's Brazilian forward Leonardo pulled one back from the spot after Ventforet keeper Michael Woud conceded a penalty early in the second half.

Sekiguchi made it 3-1 with his blast from the right of the box in the 58th minute, and Torikai completed the rout on a breakaway with a minute left in regulation.

Kofu, who reached the ACL by winning the Emperor's Cup, are currently sixth in the J2 and will aim to secure a place in the promotion playoffs by winning their final match of the domestic season on Sunday.

In Group J, reigning ACL holders Urawa Reds suffered a setback in their title defense with a late 2-1 loss away to former champions Pohang Steelers of South Korea.

Maciej Skorza's side scored first through Jose Kante in the 36th minute but conceded a penalty equalizer to Zeca before going down to 10 men with Takahiro Akimoto's 72nd-minute red card.

Kim In Sung struck the winner in the 94th minute for Pohang, who stayed on top of the group with their fourth straight victory and second in a row against Urawa, who sit third on four points from one win, one draw and two losses.

© Kyodo News