Iniesta spoils Torres’ retirement game in Japanese league
Fernando Torres of Sagan Tosu is tossed in the air by his teammates after a J1 League soccer match in Tosu, Saga prefecture, southwestern Japan, 23 August 2019. EPA-EFE/JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT
Fernando Torres of Sagan Tosu waves to supporters after a J1 League soccer match in Tosu, Saga prefecture, southwestern Japan, 23 August 2019. EPA-EFE/JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT
Fernando Torres (R) of Sagan Tosu and Andres Iniesta (L) of Vissel Kobe in action during a J1 League soccer match in Tosu, Saga prefecture, southwestern Japan, 23 August 2019. EPA-EFE/JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT
Fernando Torres (L) of Sagan Tosu in action during a J1 League soccer match in Tosu, Saga prefecture, southwestern Japan, 23 August 2019. EPA-EFE/JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT
Tokyo, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- Sagan Tosu’s Fernando Torres on Friday lost his final match as a professional soccer player 6-1 to visitor Vissel Kobe in the Japanese first division league.
The Madrid-born forward put an end to his 18-year career in a match that was spoiled by his countryman, Vissel Kobe’s Andres Iniesta, who left the game all but won when he was forced out of the pitch in the 45th minute.
The former Barcelona player started to gain control over the midfield, while Torres was energetic inside the area, waiting for the perfect chance to head home.
After 10 minutes of play, Yamaguchi got Vissel on the scoreboard with a shot that found the back of the net, successfully culminating an attack started by Iniesta.
Nearly 10 minutes later, Iniesta doubled the score for his team from the 12-yard spot.
Iniesta sought out more goals and he had what he wanted a couple of minutes later when he played a perfect long pass only for Furuhashi to set up Tanaka for the third goal.
However, Iniesta had to be taken off the pitch shortly before the half-time whistle due to a thigh discomfort.
Sagan Tosu’s fans, which did not stop chanting the name of the former Atletico Madrid player throughout the game, tried to energize the team in the early stages of the second half.
Coach Kim Myung-Hwi also sent one more forward on in a bid to change the game dynamics.
Vissel Kobe took advantage of Sagan Tosu’s impulse as Furushashi scored twice and Yamaguchi completed a brace of his own.
A frustrated Torres had three clear scoring chances to close the gap but it did not materialize.
Sagan Tosu got onto the scoreboard with an own goal by Vermaelen who inadvertently scored while trying to clear a corner.
The defeat complicated the situation of Sagan Tosu, which is 16th out of the total 18 teams in the points table, with the bottom two sides at the end of the season getting relegated.
Torres has played 39 matches with the Japanese club, scoring seven goals, the last of which came on 14 August against Kashiwa Reysol to help Sagan move on to the fourth round of the Emperor's Cup.
Following the game, the Japanese club paid homage to the 35-year-old on the pitch.
The event featured video messages by his former teammates such as Steven Gerrard and projecting some of his most important goals, including the winner that won Spain the 2008 Euro title.
The former Chelsea player showed gratitude to the club he joined in 2018 and its fans for “all the confidence” they placed in him.
“For me Japan will always be a second home,” Torres said during the event attended by his wife and three children.
“The most important thing I have is my family, and I feel that in Japan I also have a very big one, that you are all of you. I will always be in your debt,” he added.
He highlighted his intention to “continue working with the board and players to make the club a little better every day, and so that one day it can celebrate being a champion”.
Torres, who had a spell at AC Milan, also said that he will continue to be associated with the Japanese team after his retirement. EFE-EPA