RECAP: WEEKEND ASIAN ROUNDUP
Leo Osaki and Vissel Kobe finally ended their slump with a win over Nagoya Grampus in Japan while Mix Diskerud and Ulsan Hyundai were hammered by the league leaders in South Korea.
Lukas Podolski scored both goals to help Vissel Kobe to a much-needed 2-1 win over Nagoya Grampus at the Toyota Stadium to take a bit of the gloom off their disappointing season in the top flight.
Osaki was once again in the starting lineup for Kobe, playing 71 minutes in the contest.
Kobe may not be in danger of relegation, but this season will sure to be one to forget as expectations were high for them to challenge for the league title, especially with the signings of high profile players like Podolski and former Spanish international Andreas Iniesta. However, they have not been able to gel for most of the season. Even challenging for a spot in the Champions League is out of the question.
However, the visitors would jump out of the gate just 10 minutes in the game as Podolski and Iniesta linked up for the first goal in the game. The Spaniard would chip the ball into the area, allowing for the former German international to leap and strike the ball with his left foot to send it past Grampus goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak.
Kobe was playing well early on and came close to doubling their lead when Naoyuki Fujita had an excellent one-on-one chance to beat Langerak, but the Australian netminder did well to prevent the forward from beating him.
Grampus, who is in a battle at the bottom of the standings to stave off relegation, scored the equalizer just seconds into the second half when Keiji Tamada ran onto a pass from teammate Yuki Kobayashi and somehow got his shot past Kobe goalkeeper Daiya Maekawa and a defender from an acute angle that ended up crossing the line.
Despite the level score, that did not deter Kobe from pushing for more goals. They nearly retook the lead later when Ahmed Yasser rose up to head a corner kick towards the goal, but Langerak had no problems making the save.
Podolski would then find the game-winner with five minutes left in regulation as he collected the ball on the right side of the area, turned on his marker and unleashed a powerful left-footed shot that Langerak would not stop.
Grampus did give their opponents a scare near the final whistle when Tamada's headed effort beat Maekawa, but it did not beat the crossbar as the ball came crashing off it and fell just in from of the goal line.
The win moves Kobe up to 11th place in the standings with 40 points.
Elsewhere in Japan, Cayman Togashi and the FC Tokyo U-23 team came away with a 2-0 win over Grulla Morioka in J3 League action.
Jeonbuk Motors did the damage in the first half as Ulsan Hyundai found it hard to mount a comeback against the league leaders as they went down in a 3-1 loss at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium.
Diskerud was in the starting lineup for the Tigers in the loss as the K League has entered the championship round.
The league leaders opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when Son Joon-Ho sent a free-kick flying into the back of the net.
The host doubled their lead 10 minutes later when Kim Shin-Wook chested down the ball into the path of teammate Han Gyo-Won, who then headed the ball past Ulsan goalkeeper Oh Seung-Hoon and into the goal.
Kim Jin-Su scored Jeonbuk's third in the 34th minute when his strike from outside the area rolled past Oh.
Junior Negao scored a consolation goal for Ulsan in the 74th minute, but that would be about all of the positives for the visitors as they took the loss.
Ulsan remains in third place in the standings with 59 points.