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Soccer: Notsuda stunner earns Sanfrecce 1-0 win over Grampus

Sanfrecce Hiroshima midfielder Gakuto Notsuda scores with a free kick against Nagoya Grampus in a J-League first-division match at Edion Stadium Hiroshima on May 28, 2022. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Gakuto Notsuda found the net with a stunning free kick from distance Saturday as Sanfrecce Hiroshima defeated Nagoya Grampus 1-0 in the J-League first division.

    The 27-year-old midfielder hit the target in the 58th minute at Edion Stadium Hiroshima, where Sanfrecce held a celebration to honor retired club great Hisato Sato.

    Lining up the kick after Hiroshima captain Sho Sasaki was brought down three meters outside the box, Notsuda sent his attempt dipping over the wall to beat substitute keeper Yohei Takeda inside the near post.

    The goal was the first of the campaign for Hiroshima native Notsuda, who spent last season out on loan to second-division Ventforet Kofu.

    "It really felt like too long since I'd scored," Notsuda said. "I was really happy to finally do it back here at this stadium and get the three points."

    Nagoya's first-choice keeper Mitch Langerak came up hobbling from an early challenge and was replaced just nine minutes into the match.

    Sanfrecce's Swiss forward Nassim Ben Khalifa hit the post midway through the first half after the home side broke away from deep inside their own territory.

    The victory extended the unbeaten run in the J1 for German manager Michael Skibbe's Sanfrecce to four games, moving them into a tie for fourth.

    Sanfrecce were forced to postpone their scheduled clash with Gamba Osaka midweek after several Hiroshima players and staff tested positive for COVID-19.

    Kenta Hasegawa's ninth-place Nagoya squad saw their win streak snapped at three.

    In the day's other J1 clash, 11th-place Avispa Fukuoka and Urawa Reds played a scoreless draw at Best Denki Stadium.

    The visiting Reds spent long stretches camped out around the opposing area but could not break through for their first win in J1 since March 19. The draw lifted them to 14th, a position they could surrender after Sunday's games.

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