Monday 05 March 2012

Kashiwa take opening silverware as new boys struggle at J2 kickoff



J. League title holders Kashiwa Reysol clinched the first silverware of the new season with a 2-1 victory over Emperor’s Cup winners and J2 champions FC Tokyo in the Fuji Xerox Super Cup in the capital on Saturday.

Despite opening the game in rather sluggish fashion, Reysol took the lead after 26 minutes with a moment of inspiration from one of their Brazilian stars. Jorge Wagner collected the ball in midfield after a scrambled clearance from the back, and as the Tokyo defenders fatally stood off and allowed him time and space, the 33-year-old set his sights and fired beyond Hitoshi Shiota from almost 30 yards.

The advantage was doubled shortly before half time, after veteran forward Hideaki Kitajima was clumsily bundled over in the penalty area by Masato Morishige. Wagner’s compatriot Leandro Domingues made no mistake with the resulting spot kick, placing it calmly into the net high to the ’keeper’s right.

Tokyo earned a lifeline 20 minutes into the second period through new signing Aria Jasuru Hasegawa. The former Yokohama F Marinos midfielder saw his initial effort parried by Takanori Sugeno, but pounced to head home when Kashiwa defender Wataru Hashimoto failed to clear the rebound.

Ranko Popović’s side steadily recovered their momentum thereafter in search of an equaliser, but were unable to break down the champions’ resistance despite a lively cameo appearance from former Japan international Naotake Hanyu.

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The two newly-promoted sides from the third-tier Japan Football League (JFL) endured a tough start to life in the fully professional ranks as the J2 season kicked off on Sunday.

Matsumoto Yamaga, who finished fourth in the JFL last season, put up a determined showing in the first half of their trip to former Japanese champions Tokyo Verdy but were undone by two goals in seven minutes early in the second – Yuki Kobayashi and Josimar the scorers.

Meanwhile Machida Zelvia – now under the stewardship of Argentinean World Cup winner Osvaldo Ardiles following the departure of Popović to FC Tokyo – went down by another 2-0 scoreline away to Ehime FC.

Elsewhere, Ventforet Kofu and Avispa Fukuoka both made a good start in their bids to return to J1 at the first attempt – winning 2-1 at home to Tochigi SC and Roasso Kumamoto, respectively.

However, Montedio Yamagata were beaten 2-0 at JEF United Chiba.


TALKING POINTS
- Shinji Kagawa put the memories and jet lag of Japan’s midweek friendly defeat behind him to score the winning goal as Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund clinched a 2-1 victory at home to Mainz.
- Robert Cullen and Maya Yoshida both scored late on to dramatically turn a one-goal deficit into a 2-1 win for VVV Venlo over NAC Breda in the Dutch Eredivisie.
- The group stage of the AFC Champions League gets under way this week, with Gamba Osaka hosting Pohang Steelers of South Korea and FC Tokyo travelling to Brisbane Roar on Tuesday. Nagoya Grampus entertain Korean side Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma and Kashiwa Reysol visit Buriram United of Thailand on Wednesday.


Fuji Xerox Super Cup result
Kashiwa Reysol 2-1 FC Tokyo


J2 results (matchday 1)
Mito HollyHock 2-1 Yokohama FC
Tokyo Verdy 2-0 Matsumoto Yamaga
Ventforet Kofu 2-1 Tochigi SC
FC Gifu 2-2 Gainare Tottori
Fagiano Okayama 1-1 Kataller Toyama
Avispa Fukuoka 2-1 Roasso Kumamoto
Oita Trinita 2-3 Thespa Kusatsu
JEF United Chiba 2-0 Montedio Yamagata
Ehime FC 2-0 Machida Zelvia
Shonan Bellmare 2-1 Kyoto Sanga
Giravanz Kitakyushu 1-2 Tokushima Vortis

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