Tokushima Vortis went to Vegalta Sendai for a massive battle between two teams in the relegation zone. Every match for both sides could determine whether they are in the top flight next season, or whether they suffer the drop to J2. And with the two squaring off, it was an especially big relegation six-pointer.
For much of the match, there was nothing to separate the two sides. Vortis had more of the ball, but Vegalta defended well and were a threat on the counter. It was an even match, with neither team able to break through, and as the clock ticked to the 90th minute, it looked destined for a scoreless draw.
Then, Vortis struck. Mushaga Bakenga got free on a corner kick and his strong header forced a good save from Jakub Słowik, but the rebound was left for Hidenori Ishii to bang in from a yard out and deliver all three points to the visitors.
Vortis struggled all summer, winning just one match since mid-May, but they have started off autumn with a massive win in Sendai, thanks to Ishii. Most importantly, they are now just a point away from getting out of the relegation zone.
The fight at the bottom of the table is going to be heated in the season’s homestretch, but Ishii delivered a big blow for Vortis to kick it off.