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Poor weather across Japan didn't dampen the spirits of fans who travelled near and far to watch their teams contest the first match of the season




J-League Division 1


2014 Season, Round 1

VEGALTA SENDAI 1 2 ALBIREX NIIGATA
Former Australia coach Graham Arnold’s reign began with a loss when Albirex newcomer Roger Gaucho scored a dramatic last-minute goal as a substitute. Visiting midfielder Leo Silva opened scoring for Albirex with a 39th-minute penalty kick, while Shingo Tomita had managed to equalise for Vegalta in the 52nd minute.

VENTFORET KOFU
0 4 KASHIMA ANTLERS
A late change in venue to Tokyo’s National Stadium did little to help the hosts, who may have had a better chance in the snowed-in Yamanashi Chuo Bank Stadium. Davi needed just 11 minutes to score the first of his two goals for Antlers, who also saw Yasushi Endo and Gen Shoji open their accounts for the season.

NAGOYA GRAMPUS
2 3 SHIMIZU S-PULSE
Hosts Grampus failed to win under new manager Akira Nishino thanks to a late S-Pulse comeback. Toshiyuki Takagi scored the first goal of the game for the visitors in the 5th minute, but Grampus took the lead in the second half through goals by the often-injured Joshua Kennedy and talismanic centre-back Marcus Tulio Tanaka.

S-Pulse equalised through Yasuhiro Hiraoka’s 73rd-minute strike before former Ardija striker Milivoje Novakovic scored the game-winner with 10 minutes remaining.

CEREZO OSAKA
0 1 SANFRECCE HIROSHIMA
Nagai Stadium was the scene for a highly-anticipated opening day clash between star-studded Cerezo and two-time defending champions Sanfrecce. Uruguay international Diego Forlan made his J-League debut when he was named to the starting lineup, but neither team managed to find their rhythm until Sanfrecce defender Tsukasa Shiotani scored the first and only goal of the game in the 71st minute.

SAGAN TOSU
5 0 TOKUSHIMA VORTIS
Vortis, the first team from the island of Shikoku to reach Japan’s top flight, were given a rude awakening in their J1 debut at Best Amenity Stadium. Kim Min-Woo and Hiroyuki Taniguchi both found the net in the last ten minutes of the first half, while Kei Ikeda needed just one minute into the second half to make it 3-0. Yohei Toyoda added a brace to the final tally, with one goal coming from a penalty kick.

KASHIWA REYSOL
1 1 FC TOKYO
Gray and drizzly weather paved the way for a stormy encounter at Hitachi Kashiwa Stadium. After a scoreless first half in which the visitors struggled to create attempts on goal, Tokyo found the net in the second half when Hirotaka Mita managed to stuff in a loose ball. Reysol managed to equalise via national team call-up Masato Kudo, whose shot was partially blocked by Tokyo goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda but managed to strike both posts before crossing the goal line.


GAMBA OSAKA
0 1 URAWA REDS
Gamba’s return to the J1 got off to a slow start when they fell 1-0 to their rivals from Saitama. Backed by winter arrival Shusaku Nishikawa in goal, the Reds played confidently all evening despite the rainy weather and successfully defended the lone goal of the night by centre-back Tomoaki Makino.


YOKOHAMA F. MARINOS
2 0 OMIYA ARDIJA
The Emperor’s Cup champions shook off their recent poor form in an easy win against the helpless visitors. Jungo Fujimoto’s 17th-minute goal set the pace for Marinos at Nissan Stadium, but it was 25-year-old Sho Ito’s 30-meter rocket into the top corner of the net that had fans talking after the match. New Ardija manager Kiyoshi Okuma started his tenure with a loss despite getting a solid 90 minutes from winter arrival Akihiro Ienaga.


KAWASAKI FRONTALE
2 2 VISSEL KOBE
A wild back-and-forth affair at Todoroki Stadium capped off the round as a late goal prevented Frontale from collecting three points. The opening 18th-minute goal by Vissel’s Simplicio was swiftly neutralised by Yu Kobayashi’s strike a minute later, and it took another 10 minutes for Kengo Nakamura to give the hosts the lead.

In the end it was a fantastic display of passing in the final third that set up Vissel substitute Ryo Matsumura’s equaliser in additional time to send the promoted visitors back to Kobe with a point.

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