East Asia Japan

Marinos Kick-Off Title Defense with Slender Win Over Frontale

Yokohama F. Marinos got their J.League 1 title defense up and running in the best way possible after edging out Kanagawa Prefecture rivals Kawasaki Frontale 2-1 at the Todoroki Athletics Stadium last Friday.

The match was a more thrilling affair than the scoreline suggested, with Kawasaki commandeering possession yet it was Yokohama who struck twice in the first half to settle the game off.

A mistake from the usually-reliable Jung Sung-ryong allowed Takuma Nishimura to open the scoring in the fourth minute, the 26-year old linking up beautifully with Elber to give the defending champions the early advantage.

Both Daiya Tono and Taisei Miyashiro tried their best in testing the Yokohama defense for an equalizer, however the former saw his shot being saved by Yokohama’s new number one Powell Obinna Obi, while the latter had his attempt striking the woodwork.

Yokohama then doubled their lead in the 38th minute, with Anderson Lopes headed a Katsuya Nagato corner onto the path of Elber, who expertly flicked it into Jung’s goal.

Kawasaki pushed themselves in the second half as they attempted to chase the game, however they found themselves down to ten men in the 87th minute after Jesiel was sent off for a poor challenge on Marcos Junior.

Toru Oniki’s Kawasaki side finally got the goal that they’ve been looking for in the 91st minute. Newly-appointed captain Kento Tachibananda steered an Asahi Sasaki cross past Powell, slashing the deficit by half but in the end it was too little too late as Yokohama managed to see out their win.

Action from the first matchweek of the 2023 J1 League season continues on Saturday, with Cerezo Osaka – with former Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United ace Shinji Kagawa amongst their ranks – drawing 2-2 with newly-promoted Albirex Niigata at the Yodoko Sakura Stadium in Osaka, while Yuki Ohashi scored a hat-trick as Shonan Bellmare thrashed hosts Sagan Tosu 5-1.

Tosu’s local rivals Avispa Fukuoka also had a rough outing as they went down 1-0 away at Vissel Kobe, as Kashiwa Reysol and Gamba Osaka played out an exciting 2-2 draw at the Hitachi Kashiwa Stadium. Newly-promoted Yokohama FC succumbed to a 1-0 home loss at the hands of Nagoya Grampus thanks to a debut goal from Kasper Junker, FC Tokyo saw off 2022 AFC Champions League finalists Urawa Red Diamonds 2-0 at the Ajinomoto Stadium, Kashima Antlers winning 2-0 away at Kyoto Sanga, and last but not least both Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo playing out a goalless draw at the former’s Hiroshima Big Arch.