KOBE - Holders Kashima Antlers succumbed to a second straight defeat in the Nabisco Cup on Sunday, suffering a 4-1 drubbing away at Vissel Kobe.
Vissel’s Brazilian striker Pedro Junior scored a brace and set up another as Antlers, who lost their opening Group A game 2-1 at home to Ventforet Kofu four days ago, failed to make their chances count.
Vissel broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute, Pedro Junior firing into the bottom right-hand corner from inside the “D” after Masatoshi Mihara had dispossessed Gaku Shibasaki in the opposition half.
Atsutaka Nakamura shot straight at Vissel keeper Kenta Tokushige as he met a low cross from the right, and Antlers’ Brazilian striker Dinei couldn’t put away any of his three successive chances inside the box after the half-hour mark.
Kobe’s Daisuke Ishizu delivered a perfect cross at the other end moments later, only for Cristiano to volley it tamely, but captain Kazuma Watanabe fired into the top left corner from 12 meters in the 37th minute, netting his first goal of the season after Pedro Junior rolled him a pass despite taking a tumble.
“We defended well and approached the opposition goal well too on the counter,” Watanabe said. “All the forwards around me are scoring (this season) and I was feeling hurried so I’m relieved to score.”
Chances kept going begging for Kashima as halftime substitute Yasushi Endo scuffed his shot inside the box two minutes into the second half and Brazilian Caio mishit his volley from six meters following a looping pass from Shibasaki.
Pedro Junior put the game to bed in the 64th minute, as he headed in a Naoyuki Fujita corner for his second goal of the match.
Kobe wasn’t finished though and Shunki Takahashi’s low cross from the right was slotted home by Takahito Soma with 15 minutes to go. Shuto Yamamoto finally scrambled home a consolation six minutes from time before Shoma Doi hit the bar with a header, highlighting Kashima’s struggle in front of the goal the whole afternoon.
Shonan Bellmare beat Nagoya Grampus 1-0 away thanks to a late goal from Tsuyoshi Shimamura, while Ventforet and Omiya Ardija drew blanks.
In Group B, J. League bottom side Avispa Fukuoka earned a shock 1-0 win at league leaders Kawasaki Frontale following a goal from Yu Tamura. Vegalta Sendai also claimed a 1-0 away win at Vegalta Sendai after a goal from Shingo Tomita, while Leo Silva handed Albirex Niigata a 1-0 win at home against Sagan Tosu.