Football Tribe SEA Editor
Newly promoted Kashiwa Reysol announced their arrival in the 2020 J.League 1 in some style after crushing visiting Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo 4-2 at the Hitachi Kashiwa Stadium today. The reigning 2019 J.League 2 champions are no match for their northern counterparts, who were down 4-0 at one point and could only mount a late fightback that ended in vain.
Both teams started brightly once the referee signals for kick-off, with the two teams more than willing to exchange offensive blows right off the bat. Kashiwa are playing their fearsome trio that won them the J2 title last year, consisting of Brazilian veteran Cristiano, Kenyan international Michael Olunga, and Yusuke Segawa, while Consadole are sticking to their usual “Jay and Jay” combination of Jay Bothroyd and Chanathip Songkrasin, with Musashi Suzuki completing the Northerners’ attacking trio.
With the two teams exchanging blows early in the first half, it was Kashiwa who drew first blood. Cristiano performed a quick throw-in that was received by Olunga, who then proceeds to feed Ataru Esaka. Creating some space within the Consadole defense, Esaka fired off a shot that went straight into the bottom corner of Gu Sung-yun’s goal. 1-0 Kashiwa after 13 minutes.
Seven minutes later the men in yellow of Kashiwa struck again, this time through Olunga. The Kenyan international drew the attention of Gu who came off his line, before utilizing Cristiano as a distraction. With the Consadole defense solely fixed on the Brazilian, they thought that Olunga would immediately pass the ball to his waiting teammate. Instead, Consadole’s defense was utterly bamboozled as Olunga fired straight into the net through Gu’s outspread legs. 2-0 Kashiwa after 20 minutes, and despite Consadole’s best efforts in keeping themselves in the game, the scoreline stayed that way in the half-way mark of the match.
The second half saw Kashiwa continuing their merciless attacking regime, with Esaka grabbing his second of the day in the 58th minute. Both Olunga and Cristiano contributed to Esaka’s second goal – the Kenyan supplying the Brazilian with the ball, who then performed a through pass that Esaka received well. The midfielder made no mistake with his execution, sliding in a shot that went beyond Gu’s reaches to make it 3-0.
Despite being three goals to the good, Kashiwa refuses to end the onslaught just yet, and in the 65th minute it was Olunga’s turn to earn himself a brace. Cristiano was the creator once again, with the Brazilian sending Olunga clear. The Kenyan kept his calm, went around the rushing Gu, and fired home Kashiwa’s fourth.
Being 4-0 up made Kashiwa drop their pace, allowing Consadole to regain their footing and attempt a fightback. The Northerners scored twice through Takuma Arano (68th minute) and Suzuki (76th minute), with the two players taking advantage of perfectly-timed passes from Thai international Chanathip. However, it was a case of too little, too late as Kashiwa held on their nerves for the remainder of the match to emerge out 4-2 victors as the referee blew for full-time.
Elsewhere, an early strike from Bruno Mendes ensured that Cerezo Osaka started off the season with a win as they narrowly dispatched visiting Oita Trinita 1-0, while in Sendai, hosts Vegalta Sendai and Nagoya Grampus played out a 1-1 draw. Last but not least at the Todoroki Athletics Stadium, Kawasaki Frontale were frustrated to no end as Sagan Tosu forced the hosts to a goalless draw.
Matchday 1 of the J1 continues tomorrow as Yokohama F. Marinos starts their title defense at home against Gamba Osaka, while Kashima Antlers visits Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Last but not least, star-studded Vissel Kobe will look to announce their ambitious intent loud and clear as they take on newly-promoted Yokohama FC at the Misaki Park Stadium.