FC Tokyo midfielder Kota Mizunuma felt as if he hadn’t “been delivering results” of late, but he stole the spotlight during his side’s AFC Champions League round of 16 clash against Shanghai SIPG
Mizunuma scored a brace to help Tokyo secure a much-needed 2-1 victory on home soil. The midfielder put Tokyo ahead in the 43rd minute when he scored off a brilliant free-kick before Wu Lei brought Shanghai level at 1-1 in the 55th minute.
Mizunuma then produced yet another spectacular goal as he found the back of the net with a volley in the 65th minute, which was enough to see his side claim the upper hand heading into the second leg in China.
The 26-year-old was over the moon at having scored a brace and now hopes that his side can finish off Shanghai in the second leg next Tuesday and book their spot in the quarter-finals.
“I am happy we won,” Mizunuma told the Japan Times. “I haven’t been delivering results so I was really determined to do that in today’s match.
“I just tried to wallop my shot for the first goal and for the second goal I got a good connection on it. I’m relieved. We have got the home win and I hope the fans will come and watch us away in the second leg like they did in Vietnam (in the last group-stage game against Binh Duong.)”
Tokyo coach Hiroshi Jofuku was pleased that his side triumphed in the first leg as it puts them in a good position to advance to the last eight, but he was disappointed that his side could not keep a clean sheet.
“In this first leg, we knew that if we don’t get three points here we would have a very difficult time when we visit them in Shanghai,” he told the official AFC website. “So, we went into the game with very strong mentality and were determined to implement our task today.
“We gave away a goal, which is a pity. But our players showed what they could do now well for 90 minutes. Because it was 2-1, however, if we give away a goal next and cannot score we wouldn’t be able to advance. So, we’ll prepare for the next game in order to advance to the next round.”