Soccer: Ito nets Reims winner on return from 2-match suspension

Japan winger Junya Ito returned from a two-match suspension to net an 87th-minute winner for his fourth goal of the season as Reims beat Auxerre 2-1 in France's Ligue 1 on Sunday.

Ito, suspended after seeing red against Troyes on Oct. 2 when he also had a goal and assist, gave his side their first win in seven games by tapping in at the far post after Mitchell van Bergen's shot was saved into his path.

"The past three weeks have been really tough," said Ito. "But I worked hard on daily training and I'm really happy to have delivered despite not being in my best condition."

Folarin Balogun side-footed home the opener in the 28th minute before M'baye Niang headed in the leveler for the visitors five minutes later at Stade Auguste-Delaune.

Ito said he suffered a cramp in his leg an hour into the match but the World Cup hopeful still managed to come up with a vital contribution.

"I always have my eye on that position when the ball is on the opposite side," Ito said. "It was great to repay the faith of the manager, who kept me on until the end."

In the Netherlands, Yukinari Sugawara bagged his second goal of the season in the Eredivisie as AZ Alkmaar lost 2-1 away to Excelsior.

Sugawara came off the bench during the first half and halved the deficit three minutes after the break when he struck Tijjani Reijnders' cutback high into the net at the far post.

© Kyodo News