YOKOHAMA – Kyoto Purple Sanga was given a rude awakening on its return to the top flight after a two-year absence as resurgent Japan striker Tatsuhiko Kubo scored twice to help give Yokohama F. Marinos a comfortable 4-1 win in their J. League season opener on Sunday.
Ventforet Kofu also made an unhappy start to life in the first division after a 2-0 defeat at home to Shimizu S-Pulse but promoted Avispa Fukuoka came within three minutes of pulling off a surprise away win over Jubilo Iwata, Makoto Tanaka rescuing Jubilo with a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw at Yamaha Stadium.
Elsewhere, Atsushi Yanagisawa marked his return to Kashima Antlers in style with a hat-trick in the 4-3 win at Sanfrecce Hiroshima as goals poured in across the country.
Okinawan striker Kazuki Ganaha also helped himself to a treble in Kawasaki Frontale’s 6-0 thrashing of Albirex Niigata while Omiya Ardija came from 2-1 down to overpower 10-man JEF United Chiba 4-2 at Saitama Stadium 2002.
At Nissan Stadium, Brazilian striker Magrao set the wheels in motion for 2003 and 2004 champion Yokohama when he rifled home the opener after just four minutes and Kubo was gifted the second just after the half-hour mark.
Kyoto keeper Koji Nishimura made a hash of a left-wing cross from Dutra and Kubo was on hand to nod home at the far post before he killed the game off as a contest with another header seven minutes before the interval.
Kubo went desperately close to completing a hat-trick but was denied by the woodwork when his 67th-minute header came back off the crossbar.
“It was a great ball in from Marques and it was good to see it go in,” said Kubo of his second goal. “Hopefully I’ll score a lot more goals this season.”
Marques opened his Yokohama account with the fourth in the 81st minute before Paulinho grabbed a late consolation for last season’s second-division champion.
“The first game of the season is always difficult for any team but we won and obviously I’m extremely pleased with the result,” said Yokohama manager Takeshi Okada.
“But we couldn’t keep the momentum going in the second half and I don’t think the players are satisfied with the way they dropped off. They have the potential to play a lot better and hopefully they will do as the season progresses.”
Kyoto manager Koichi Hashiratani said, “We were completely outplayed. I think the players choked under opening-day pressure, especially in the first half, and that’s why we couldn’t play our own game.”
At Kose Sports Park, Kofu, which secured promotion from Division Two after hammering Kashiwa Reysol in a playoff, went behind to South Korea striker Cho Jae Jin’s 15th-minute goal and 19-year-old midfielder Takuma Edamura sealed the win eight minutes from time.
At Hiroshima Big Arch, Yanagisawa, who has just rejoined Kashima on loan from Messina after failing to make an impact at the Serie A side, was the star of the show with goals in the 39th, 44th and 72nd minutes.
Mitsuo Ogasawara opened the scoring for Kashima from the penalty spot while Hisato Sato and former Nagoya Grampus Eight striker Ueslei (twice) were on target for Hiroshima.
At Ajinomoto Stadium, Paraguayan striker Santiago Salcedo and new signing Rychely both scored as FC Tokyo eased past Oita Trinita 2-0, while substitute Yohei Toyoda struck the winner as Nagoya Grampus Eight edged visiting Cerezo Osaka 3-2.
Defending champion Gamba Osaka kicked off its campaign with a 1-1 draw at home to last season’s runnersup Urawa Reds on Saturday.
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