FC Tokyo assumed control of their AFC Champions League round of 16 tie against Shanghai SIPG by grinding out a 2-1 victory at home on Tuesday.
The hosts got off to a ferocious start and were presented with an opportunity to open the scoring as early as the fifth minute, when Kento Hashimoto’s cross into the box was chested down by Ryoichi Maeda for the advancing Kota Mizunuma but his powerful effort from 15 yards was blocked by defender Fu Huan.
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Five minutes later the Japanese side manufactured another chance as Takuji Yonemoto found himself in space at the back post as the ball was crossed to him. However, goalkeeper Yan Junling saved well.
Against the run of play Shanghai almost pinched the lead 10 minutes before half-time when Kim Ju-young headed over from close range after a superb delivery from a Dario Conca freekick.
Tokyo finally earned a well-deserved lead minutes prior to the interval when Mizunuma powered home from a freekick that was awarded after Elkeson stopped a shot at on goal with his hand.
The half-time break did Shanghai the world of good as they found a far better tempo in the second-half and were able to string together lengthy periods of possession.
After 55 minutes that pressure paid dividends as they drew level courtesy of Lu Wenjun’s follow up effort after Conca played him in.
With 25 minutes left in the first leg Tokyo got their noses in front again when the unmarked Mizunuma volleyed Yuhei Tokunaga’s cross from the left into the back of the net from eight yards to complete a fine brace.
The visitors pushed hard for a second away goal but Tokyo’s backline were clinical in closing out the game.
While Tokyo will feel the momentum is on their side heading into the second leg, they cannot underestimate the importance of Shanghai’s away goal.
A 1-0 victory for the latter next week will seem them progress. They only conceded three goals at home during the group stages of the AFC Champions League and will back their ability to prevent Tokyo from scoring.
This tie is far from over.