YOKOHAMA – Yokohama F. Marinos spoiled Shonan Bellmare’s return to the J. League first division with a late comeback for a 4-2 win as the 2013 season got under way on Saturday.
Bellmare, back in the top flight after a two-year absence, fell behind on a 40th-minute Shunsuke Nakamura free kick at Nissan Stadium before replying less than a minute later through Quirino.
Quirino then doubled his tally to put Shonan ahead in the 61st minute, but the visitors’ hopes of making an immediate impact in J1 were eventually dashed as goals from Marquinhos and substitute Manabu Saito completed the turnaround before Marquinhos added a penalty in injury time.
“It’s good to start the season with a win,” said Marinos manager Yasuhiro Higuchi, who led his team to a fourth-place finish last season. “But if you think about the game as a whole, we didn’t achieve the things we set out to do. We weren’t able to win the ball as much as we would have liked, and that hurt our rhythm.
“The players showed their character when we went behind, and I was very pleased with the way they managed to turn the result around. But we still have a lot of things to work on, and we have to keep aiming higher.”
Saito’s 59th-minute introduction played a big part in turning the tide, with the 22-year-old setting up Marquinhos for the equalizer before scoring the decisive goal himself in the 83rd minute.
“Last year I didn’t manage to score even one goal at home, and it was playing on my mind,” said Saito, who started on the bench as he returns from injury. “Now we want to go on and win the title.”
Bellmare began the game with plenty of attacking ambition, but it was Marinos who took the lead when Nakamura converted a textbook free kick from the edge of the area.
Bellmare did not wait long to shake the setback out of their system, as Quirino pounced to bury a first-time shot in the box less than a minute later to bring the visitors level.
Nakamura went close with another free kick as the second half got under way, but instead it was Quirino who notched his second goal when he caught Shingo Hyodo napping before dispatching the ball past goalkeeper Tetsuya Enomoto.
Bellmare substitute Kosuke Taketomi then thought he had secured the win only to see his goal chalked off for offside, and Marinos took full advantage when Saito found Marquinhos for Yokohama’s equalizer.
Then, with time running out, the home side completed the turnaround. Saito scrapped hard to win the ball in the Bellmare box before rifling it home for Marinos’ third, and Marquinhos added a fourth from the penalty spot.
“There were good points and bad points for us today, and now we have to try and build on that in the next game,” said Bellmare manager Cho Kwi Jae. “Three years ago when we came here we had 29 shots against us, but since then I think the club and the players have grown a little.
“It’s very frustrating to lose today, but it’s a good learning experience.”
Elsewhere in the J. League, champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima began their title defense with a 2-1 home defeat to Urawa Reds, while last season’s runnerup, Vegalta Sendai, drew 1-1 with J2 champions Ventforet Kofu.
Yoichiro Kakitani scored in the 88th minute to give Cerezo Osaka a 1-0 win over Albirex Niigata, Jubilo Iwata fought back to claim a 1-1 draw with Nagoya Grampus, and Yohei Toyoda was on target as Sagan Tosu drew 1-1 with Kashima Antlers.
Shimizu S-Pulse came from two goals behind to claim a 2-2 draw away to Omiya Ardija, while in the day’s late match, FC Tokyo beat promoted Oita Trinita 2-1.