Vissel Kobe’s ascendancy underneath new head coach Atsuhiro Miura continues on Sunday as they edged out defending J.League 1 champions Yokohama F. Marinos 3-2 at Yokohama’s NHK Spring Mitsuzawa Stadium. Victory in their Matchweek 20 game meant that Vissel had won all four games underneath Miura’s supervision, which saw the star-studded side slowly creeping their way into the J1’s top half.
Sunday’s match at the Mitsuzawa was a clash between two in-form teams in the league, with Vissel winning their last three J1 games and Yokohama gaining 13 points from their last five games. Ange Postecoglou’s Yokohama will be looking to keep up pace with teams such as Kawasaki Frontale, Cerezo Osaka, and FC Tokyo in the higher echelons of the J1 table as they hunt for a spot in next year’s AFC Champions League.
The defending champions seemed to be on the right track in the opening stages of the match, after Edigar Junio had put Yokohama in front after 3 minutes after he had taken advantage of an excellent cross from Ryuta Koike. Vissel however fired back and the men from Hyogo drew the scoreline level in the 7th minute through Douglas. Receiving a through pass from Daigo Nishi, Douglas managed to beat the Yokohama offside trap before luring Yokohama goalkeeper Yuji Kajikawa out of his post and outmuscling him, leaving the Brazilian with the easy task of smashing the ball into the empty net.
Vissel then went ahead in the 11th minute after Yokohama’s Takahiro Ogihara had fouled Yuta Goke inside the box. FC Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta was tasked with the ensuing penalty and the Spaniard made no mistake from the spot as his powerful shot sent Kajikawa the wrong way.
Iniesta then played a huge role in Vissel’s third goal of the match, initiating a counterattack in the 56th minute that ended with Douglas feeding the ball to Kyogo Furuhashi, who smashed home a 55th minute curling shot that extended Vissel’s advantage.
Despite being the dominant team throughout the match, Yokohama was unable to breach Vissel’s defenses further as the defending champions were let down by their poor finishing, with Yokohama only able to score another goal deep into injury time through Koike. The damage, though, has already been done and Yokohama fell into 6th place with that 3-2 defeat, with Vissel creeping up into 9th place thanks to the three points. Miura’s Vissel, despite being in the lower reaches of the J1’s top half, are only 4 points off 4th place and any slip-ups from the teams above them would enable Vissel to propel themselves higher in the next matchweek.
Sunday’s Matchweek 20 action also saw FC Tokyo eking out a 1-0 win away at last-placed Shonan Bellmare and Nagoya Grampus nicking a 1-0 win at Urawa Red Diamonds’ Saitama Stadium 2002, with Urawa finishing the match with 10 men following Thomas Deng’s 85th minute red card.