Kagawa enjoys happy return

Japan forward scores in first game back for Dortmund

Reuters, AP, Kyodo

Japan international Shinji Kagawa sparkled on his return to Borussia Dortmund, scoring one goal for the Ruhr Valley club and helping set up another in a 3-1 win over Freiburg on Saturday.

The 25-year-old Kagawa, who spent two seasons at Manchester United after winning consecutive Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012 with Dortmund, was welcomed back with roaring applause and he instantly rewarded the fans.

“I don’t know whether it was because of nerves but my body felt heavy,” said Kagawa. “I was able to ease up after we got two goals.”

Kagawa admitted he had goose bumps throughout the match.

“The fans gave me a warm-hearted and fantastic welcome before the game had even kicked off,” said Kagawa.

“I really wanted to win today and I’m delighted that we pulled it off. I had goose bumps throughout the entire match.

“We’ve got a diverse squad, who play at a very high level. If we work really well together, if we play really well together then we can be a force to be reckoned with.”

First Kagawa set up Kevin Grosskreutz, whose cutback found Adrian Ramos for the lead.

Dubbed the “Lost son” by German media, the attacking midfielder fired in from 12 meters in the 41st minute as hundreds of Japanese flags were unfurled in the stands.

“Shinji played an outstanding game and he had cramps at the end which is a good sign,” coach Juergen Klopp told reporters.

“We know very well that he can play football and also create a special atmosphere,” said Klopp after his player, who failed to hold down a starting spot at United, received a standing ovation at the end of the game.

“Shinji was smiling the whole time, at least until he got the cramp,” Dortmund midfielder Sebastian Kehl said.

Substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang completed Dortmund’s successful dress rehearsal for its Champions League group opener against Arsenal next week, with a scintillating 50-meter sprint and a superb chip for a third goal in the 78th.

Oliver Sorg claimed Freiburg’s consolation in the final minute.

Elsewhere, Kagawa’s World Cup teammate Shinji Okazaki scored twice to help Mainz win 3-1 at Hertha Berlin and become the all-time Japanese scorer in the German top flight with 28 career goals.

Okazaki had tied the record for a Japanese player held by Yasuhiro Okudera with his 26th in a season-opening 2-2 draw away to promoted Paderborn on Aug. 24.

Costa powers Chelsea

AP

Chelsea finally seems to have found the solution to its striking struggles. Diego Costa took his goal haul to seven in four matches with a hat trick against Swansea on Saturday while Loic Remy also scored on his debut.

The 4-2 victory was Chelsea’s fourth win in four matches this season and ended Swansea’s perfect start to the Premier League season. Costa, who joined from Atletico Madrid for more than $50 million in July, is the first Chelsea player in 86 years to score in his first four games.

Just how much a team relies on a lethal striker is clear at Liverpool, which was beaten 1-0 by Aston Villa. Gabriel Agbonlahor’s ninth-minute goal inflicted Liverpool’s second loss in four games since last season’s runnerup sold Luis Suarez to Barcelona.

In London, there was no debut goal for Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck in a 2-2 draw with champion Manchester City.

Like Arsenal, north London rival Tottenham also conceded late to draw 2-2 at Sunderland as Harry Kane scored an own goal.

In west London, Chelsea’s start didn’t bode well for the hosts when captain John Terry turned a cross from Swansea defender Neil Taylor into his own net in the 11th minute.

It took until just before halftime for Costa to equalize for Chelsea, and there was no stopping the Brazil-born Spain forward after his header from Fabregas’ corner.

The pair combined 11 minutes into the second half with Costa finishing clinically from a cutback by Fabregas who now has six assists in his four games since leaving Barcelona.

Costa completed his hat trick in the 67th after Ramires scuffed a shot into his path.

“He’s comfortable in the team,” Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho said. “The team was built in a way where we were waiting for a certain type of striker. I think now everybody knows Chelsea did the right thing waiting for him.”

Costa’s work was done but his replacement, Remy, didn’t take long to make his mark. The French forward, signed from Queens Park Rangers, netted from Oscar’s pass in the 81st. The goal ensured there would be no nervy finish after Jonjo Shelvey’s goal for Swansea five minutes later.

“We have difficult weeks ahead of us,” Mourinho cautioned, already eyeing Wednesday’s Champions League opener against Schalke.

Liverpool returns to European soccer’s elite competition after a four-year absence on Tuesday, hosting Bulgarian newcomer Ludogorets. Both Arsenal and Manchester City prepared for their Champions League matches in midweek with a pulsating draw.

Sergio Augero exploited gaps in the Arsenal defense to put City ahead in the 28th. But Jack Wilshere inspired Arsenal’s recovery in the second half, chipping the ball over goalkeeper Joe Hart and then heading to Alexis Sanchez to volley into the net.

City leveled thanks to the hosts’ poor defending in the 83rd.