NAGOYA – Nagoya Grampus continued their impressive return to the J. League first division Saturday with a 1-0 win over visiting Jubilo Iwata.
An eighth-minute goal from Brazilian midfielder Gabriel Xavier proved the difference in front of a vocal home crowd savoring its first taste of top-flight soccer after a season’s absence.
The Sao Paulo native, who joined Grampus last season from Brazilian team Cruzeiro, seized upon a defensive lapse by the visitors to secure the three points.
Grampus right back Kazuya Miyahara, looking for Brazilian striker Jo in the box, miscued a diagonal ball toward Jubilo midfielder Fozil Musaev. The Uzbekistani international botched the clearance, however, hitting it off teammate Shohei Takahashi and into the path of Xavier, leaving him with only goalkeeper Ryuki Miura to beat from the edge of the area.
After the match, Xavier said Grampus fans could expect to see plenty of goals this year as the chemistry builds between himself and Jo.
“Since Jo has arrived, we’ve quickly been able to work together within the system,” Xavier said. “I want to make more use of our combination, and score more goals.”
The 24-year-old, who completed his transfer in January after initially arriving from Cruzeiro on loan, said he was moved by the large number of fans at Toyota Stadium waving Brazilian flags.
“After coming to the other side of the world, it’s wonderful to be able to see my own country’s flag. I’m really happy,” he said.
In a period of sustained pressure, Jubilo created a pair of chances early in the second half, but Grampus ‘keeper Mitch Langerak was up to the task both times.
The Australian made a sprawling save to deny Kengo Kawamata in the 58th minute after Jubilo left back Guilherme Santos put the former Grampus striker through on goal with a looping ball from the left wing.
Langerak was called into action again a minute later, stopping a shot from Masaev at close range after midfielder Adailton found the defensive midfielder with a probing ball into the box.
Xavier missed an opportunity to double the lead in the 67th minute when a Nagoya counterattack culminated in Ariajasuru Hasegawa setting up the Brazilian with a short cross from the right of the box. However, the subsequent shot posed no threat to Miura, sailing wide left into the stands.
In other results on Saturday, Vegalta Sendai beat FC Tokyo 1-0 away thanks to a 57th-minute goal from Naoki Ishihara. The Kashima Antlers secured their first victory of the season, beating Gamba Osaka 1-0 at home on a 78th-minute winner from Mu Kanazaki.
Shimizu S-Pulse beat Vissel Kobe 4-2 away, with goals from Crislan, Koya Kitagawa, Yugo Tatsuta and Shota Kaneko. Junya Tanaka and Jun Woo-young scored for the home side.