YOKOHAMA – Yokohama F. Marinos maintained their perfect start to the J. League season with a comfortable 3-0 win over promoted Tokushima Vortis on Saturday.
Seitaro Tomisawa broke the deadlock with a 14th-minute header at Mitsuzawa Stadium before Sho Ito added a second 15 minutes into the second half and Jungo Fujimoto wrapped up the scoring in the 77th minute.
Marinos have now won three games out of three to open the new campaign, with last season’s runnersup yet to concede a single goal.
“We controlled the game for the full 90 minutes,” said Marinos manager Yasuhiro Higuchi. “We scored from set pieces, and that was good because we had talked about how important it is to take your chances against teams who set out to defend.
“Our tempo dropped a little in the first half, but overall I’m happy with how we played. Our games in the Asian Champions League and the J. League are coming thick and fast, so we have to keep this going.”
Tokushima became the first team from Shikoku to play in J1 when it made its top-flight debut this season, but a record of three defeats, no goals scored and 10 conceded has left manager Shinji Kobayashi in no doubt as to the scale of the task.
“We didn’t start well and conceded a goal within the first 15 minutes of each half,” said Kobayashi. “We were waiting for the ball to come to us rather than going in search of it.
“We lost 3-0 over the 90 minutes but we put together some good attacking moves. But you can’t win games unless you score goals, and that’s what we need to work on.”
Marinos looked threatening straight from the kickoff, with Kosuke Nakamachi and Manabu Saito both going close before Tomisawa opened the scoring. Shunsuke Nakamura swung in a free kick from the right, and Tomisawa rose unchallenged to plant a header past goalkeeper Kenya Matsui.
Marinos failed to press their advantage as Vortis recovered to reach halftime without sustaining further damage, but there was no way back when Ito doubled the home side’s lead on the hour mark.
Nakamura again sparked the danger with a free kick into the Tokushima box, and Yuzo Kurihara played the ball back across goal for Ito to tap into an unguarded net.
Kleiton Domingues went close to registering Tokushima’s first-ever J1 goal only to be denied by the fingertips of goalkeeper Tetsuya Enomoto in the 69th minute.
And Fujimoto compounded the visitors’ misery with Yokohama’s third of the afternoon less than 10 minutes later, firing home after a quickfire exchange of passes with substitute Yuta Mikado.
“We didn’t concede a goal, and the result was the most important thing,” said Nakamura.
“We started well and we were always first to the loose balls. Scoring the first goal was what made the difference.”
Elsewhere in the J. League, Urawa Reds responded to being ordered to play next Sunday’s home game against Shimizu S-Pulse behind closed doors as punishment for a discriminatory banner displayed by fans by beating champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-0. Shinzo Koroki and Genki Haraguchi scored either side of halftime to condemn Sanfrecce to their first defeat of the season.
Kashima Antlers joined Marinos on maximum nine points — also with no goals conceded — after beating Sagan Tosu 3-0, Omiya Ardija scored in the 90th and 93rd minutes to come from behind and sink Kawasaki Frontale 4-3, while Ventforet Kofu and Albirex Niigata drew 1-1.
Josh Kennedy scored the winner as Nagoya Grampus beat Kashiwa Reysol 1-0, Vissel Kobe beat FC Tokyo 2-1, Diego Forlan failed to notch his first J. League goal as Cerezo Osaka beat S-Pulse 4-1, and in the day’s other game, Vegalta Sendai and Gamba Osaka drew 0-0.