Soccer : Late Red Card Gives 1st Leg To Hiroshima

Soccer : Late red card gives 1st leg to HiroshimaSanfrecce Hiroshima drew first blood in the J.League championship final on Wednesday by snatching a dramatic 3-2 win at Gamba Osaka in the first leg.
Defender Sho Sasaki and substitute Yoshifumi Kashiwa plundered stoppage-time goals as the visitors stunned last year’s Japanese treble winners on a chilly evening at Expo stadium.

Yasuyuki Konno looked to have given Gamba victory with a sharp finish 9 minutes from time until Hiroshima’s late fireworks changed the complexion of the tie after Gamba’s Oh Jae Suk had been sent off for violent conduct.

Sasaki headed the equalizer in the first minute of injury time and Kashiwa sealed a thrilling turnaround with a drilled shot on 96 minutes to put Hiroshima in the driver’s seat before Saturday’s return leg.

“A 2-2 draw would have been a great result, but the players wanted more,” said Hiroshima manager Hajime Moriyasu, whose side are chasing a third J.League title after back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013.

“We showed excellent resilience again, but it’s not over yet; we still have to finish the job.”

The winners qualify for this month’s lucrative FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, which includes European champions Barcelona and Libertadores Cup holders River Plate.