OITA (Kyodo) -- Arata Watanabe scored a brace Sunday as Oita Trinita boosted their survival hopes with a crucial 2-0 win over fellow strugglers Vegalta Sendai in the J-League first division.
Forward Watanabe slotted home the rebound in the 50th minute at Showa Denko Dome after Kohei Isa's effort was saved, then buried a penalty 10 minutes later following a foul by Vegalta keeper Jakub Slowik.
The bottom four clubs will drop down to the J2 without playoffs at the end of this season, restoring the J-League top flight to the normal 18 teams after relegation was halted last year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Oita remain in the relegation zone in 18th on 27 points, two points below 16th-placed Tokushima Vortis.
Vegalta stay bottom in 20th on 23 points. All teams have six games left to play.