SAITAMA – Emperor’s Cup holders Cerezo Osaka opened the season on a winning note Saturday, defeating reigning J. League champions Kawasaki Frontale 3-2 in the Fuji Xerox Super Cup.
Cerezo, who defeated Frontale 2-0 in November’s League Cup final, opened the scoring at Saitama Stadium on a slick 26th-minute goal from captain Hotaru Yamaguchi, before adding another shortly after halftime from Hiroshi Kiyotake.
Yu Kobayashi pulled one back soon after from the penalty spot, while substitute Toshiyuki Takagi exploited some poor defending to make it 3-1 in the 78th minute.
Frontale made the final minutes entertaining, however, when Yoshito Okubo, the league’s all-time leading scorer, marked his return to the Kawasaki club with an injury-time tap-in.
Both teams will open their Asian Champions League campaigns this week, with Frontale hosting China’s Shanghai East Asia on Tuesday at Todoroki Stadium and Cerezo at South Korean side Jeju United on Wednesday.