Football Tribe SEA Editor
An eventful first matchday of the 2020 J.League 1 season comes to a close today, with Sunday’s action seeing Thai international Teerasil Dangda opening his account for Shimizu S-Pulse with a goal in his debut while defending champions Yokohama F. Marinos were stunned at home by Gamba Osaka. Kashima Antlers’ stuttering start to the season underneath new head coach Antonio Carlos Zago continues as they were smashed 3-0 at Sanfrecce Hiroshima, while newly-promoted Yokohama FC managed to force hosts Vissel Kobe to a draw.
Hosting 2019 J1 runners-up FC Tokyo at a sunny IAI Stadium Nihondaira, Shimizu managed to force the favorites to a goalless draw in half-time, before stunning the Gasmen two minutes into the second half. Yugo Tatsuta initiated a counterattack for the men in orange, which leads to Kenta Nishizawa feeding Teerasil with a through pass before the former SCG Muangthong United player finishes off the move with a calm finish that beat FC Tokyo goalie Akihiro Hayashi. It was Teerasil’s first-ever goal in his second J.League stint, having signed for Shimizu on a permanent basis during the off-season. Interestingly, Teerasil’s first J.League stint, a loan move to Sanfrecce in 2018, also saw the Thai striker scoring in his debut match.
Teerasil’s goal jolted FC Tokyo into action and immediately the capital side pressed on for the equalizer. The Gasmen’s efforts paid off in the 75th minute, with Tatsuta turning from hero to villain for Shimizu as he fouled Leandro inside the box. Diego Oliveira made no mistake with his penalty and FC Tokyo are level. Kenta Hasegawa’s men won’t just settle with a point though and three minutes later they turned the tie around to their favor. Once again it was Leandro who initiated the offense, feeding Oliveira with a pass who then provided Adailton with the opportunity to finish things off. The new signing from Shimizu’s prefectural rivals Jubilo Iwata made no mistake with his shot and made it 2-1 for FC Tokyo.
Things then go from bad to worse for Peter Cklamovski’s side as the referee awarded another penalty against them in injury time. Leandro stepped up to the plate and secured all three points for FC Tokyo, completing a 3-1 comeback win for the capital side.
Meanwhile, at the Nissan Stadium, Ange Postecoglou’s Yokohama came into their encounter against Gamba on the back of two superb performances against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of South Korea and Sydney FC of Australia in the AFC Champions League. However, the defending champions were shocked by a horrible error made by goalkeeper Park Iru-gyu in the 6th minute, which allows Shu Kurata to open the scoreline for Gamba. Yokohama were unable to recover in time from this setback, as Gamba doubled their advantage in the 36th minute. A long punt upfield by Gamba goalie Masaaki Higashiguchi was found by Kurata, who then crossed the ball for Shinya Yajima to head in Gamba’s second. It was not until the second half that Yokohama showed any signs of life – a 74th minute finish by Marcos Junior – but despite their best efforts to recover the game, the Brazilian’s goal would end up as being mere consolation as Gamba left the Nissan Stadium with all three points.
At the Misaki Park Stadium in Kobe, Yokohama FC proved themselves to be no pushovers against star-studded Vissel in their first J1 game since 2007. The 2019 J2 runners-up had even silenced the Misaki Park Stadium faithful in the 24th minute, as Tatsuki Seko pounced in the opener for his side. Stung and stunned by Yokohama FC’s opening goal, Vissel head coach Thorsten Fink acted in the second half by introducing Douglas and Keijiro Ogawa into the pitch, although it was the equally-in-form Kyogo Furuhashi who scored Vissel’s equalizer in the 74th minute. With the scores tied, Vissel pushed forward and forward for the winning goal with Douglas and Andres Iniesta carving up chances for their team, however, Yokohama FC defended well and hung on for the draw and the solitary point. Despite being prominently featured in various media promoting the match alongside Iniesta, Yokohama FC’s 52-year old striker Kazuyoshi Miura did not even make it into Takahiro Shimotaira’s matchday squad.
Last but not least, goals from Douglas Vieira, Leandro Pereira, and Tsukasa Morishima helped Sanfrecce to a crushing 3-0 win over Kashima at the Hiroshima Big Arch. 2019 third-placers Kashima are yet to win a competitive game underneath new head coach Zago and have also yet to score a competitive goal, having lost 1-0 to both Melbourne Victory and Nagoya Grampus in their previous two matches in the AFC Champions League play-off and the J.League Cup group stage respectively.