Hotaru Yamaguchi and Takuma Arano both score braces as Vissel Kobe edge out hosts Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo 3-2 at the Sapporo Dome on Sunday night. Both Thai international Chanathip Songkrasin and former FC Barcelona maestro Andres Iniesta started the match for Consadole and Vissel respectively as the latter gave the former their first league defeat since the restart of the J.League 1.
The final match of the J1’s Matchweek 8 saw Chanathip test his wits against his more world-renowned counterpart Iniesta on a summer’s night at the Sapporo Dome, with the two men having recently being inducted into the DAZN J.League Team of the Month for July. However, it was neither men that starred for their team on Sunday night’s showdown – instead it was Hotaru for Vissel and Arano for Consadole who stood out, both men scoring two goals for their respective teams.
It was Arano who struck first for Consadole in the 29th minute, taking advantage of a mistake from Vissel defender Thomas Vermaelen. Whilst trying to intercept a pass, the former FC Barcelona and Arsenal man inexplicably headed the ball towards the path of Arano, who easily slides it into the Vissel goal.
However, two minutes after the opener, Vissel struck back. The team from Hyogo Prefecture had Hotaru to thank as he smashed home a low shot after receiving an excellent pass from Brazilian teammate Douglas.
Vissel then took the lead on the stroke of half-time, after Iniesta sent a long ball forward towards Daigo Nishi, before the 32-year old defender passed it short towards Douglas, who tapped the ball into the empty net after Consadole goalie Takanori Sugeno had rushed out of his post only seconds earlier. The first half ended 2-1 to Vissel’s advantage.
Shortly into the second stanza, Consadole equalized the game through Arano. In the 47th minute, Consadole executed a brilliant counterattack that saw Yoshiaki Komai lobbing the ball towards the Vissel penalty area. Both Arano and Vissel goalie Hiroki Iikura raced towards the ball, however it was Arano who came out on top and he poked the ball into the Vissel goal to draw the scores level for the Northerners.
Star-studded Vissel had the final say though and in the 61st minute the men from Hyogo pulled off a counterattack of their own. Gotoku Sakai sent a diagonal pass towards Hotaru, who effortlessly stabbed the ball into Sugeno’s goal to make it 3-2 Vissel – a scoreline that lasted all the way into full-time.
The three points meant that Vissel moved into 9th on the J1 table, stalking 8th placed Consadole closely with the two sides being separated by goal difference. Still unbeaten Kawasaki Frontale remained as league leaders for at least another matchweek, with five points separating them from 2nd placed Cerezo Osaka. Shonan Bellmare propped up the table with a measly 4 points, with the bottom three also occupied by Yokohama FC and Shimizu S-Pulse.