YOKOHAMA – Jungo Fujimoto and Sho Ito both opened their Yokohama F. Marinos accounts as the Emperor’s Cup holders beat Omiya Ardija 2-0 in their J. League season opener on Sunday.
Fujimoto netted in the first half at a rain-lashed Nissan Stadium and Ito added a blistering strike in the dying moments to help Marinos rebound from their midweek defeat in the Asian Champions League.
“This is the first game of the J. League season but we showed our supporters two poor performances in the Xerox (Super Cup) and ACL. We talked about how we could start afresh in the J. League and I think we showed heart today,” said Fujimoto.
“Hopefully I can continue to contribute to the team with goals and assists,” added the former Nagoya Grampus man.
Yokohama came into Sunday’s match in need of a tonic after last weekend’s 2-0 Xerox Super Cup defeat to Sanfrecce Hiroshima was followed by a 3-0 whipping at the hands of South Korea’s Jeonbuk Motors on Wednesday in the ACL.
And Fujimoto finally gave his team’s fans something to cheer about with a peach of a strike on 17 minutes.
Omiya failed to clear properly after Manabu Saito caused panic with a mazy run into the box, and the loose ball fell for Fujimoto, who buried his shot into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area.
Shunsuke Nakamura went close to doubling Marinos’ lead with a free kick before Tomoki Imai rattled the outside of the post at the other end on the stroke of halftime.
Tetsuya Enomoto made a solid stop to deny Akihiro Ienaga on 68 minutes as Omiya tried to claw its way back into the game, but Ito, a preseason signing from Shimizu S-Pulse, had the last word three minutes from time, crashing in a shot from 25 meters to make the points safe.
“I’m really happy that we won and can now try to get on a roll,” said Ito. “I’m glad I scored. As a forward it is my job to try and score in every game we play.”
In Sunday’s only other fixture, Ryo Matsumura scored an injury-time equalizer as promoted Vissel Kobe earned a 2-2 draw away to Kawasaki Frontale.