TOSU, SAGA PREF. – Sagan Tosu and Jubilo Iwata battled their way to a 0-0 stalemate Saturday as marquee signing Fernando Torres made his first J. League start for the home side.
The former Liverpool and Atletico Madrid forward, who debuted in last Sunday’s 1-0 loss away to Vegalta Sendai, started on the left side of a strike pairing with Mu Kanazaki, who was making his first appearance for Sagan since transferring from the Kashima Antlers.
In front of 14,333 at Best Amenity Stadium, Torres was heavily involved in Sagan’s attack and came close to scoring 10 minutes into the second half. Only the quick reactions of Jubilo ‘keeper Krzysztof Kaminski prevented the 34-year-old Spaniard from netting his first J. League goal.
Defender Kim Min-hyeok made a run through the center before playing a ball over the top to Torres at the edge of the box. The forward controlled it with his chest, then attempted to chip Kaminski with his right foot, but the Polish custodian was quickly off his line to make a vital save.
Torres and Kanazaki combined to create a chance for Sagan 12 minutes later, with the Spaniard skillfully threading a pass with the outside of his boot to his strike partner on the right wing. Kanazaki crossed to Akito Fukuta with his first touch, but the midfielder was a split-second too late to meet the ball directly in front of goal.
Sagan, who remain second-last in the 18-team table, aim to improve the teamwork of their new look lineup as quickly as possible, playmaker Yoshiki Takahashi said.
“It was unfortunate we couldn’t get the win today, but with more and more practice, our communication will improve a lot,” Takahashi said.
Torres made an attempt on goal 10 minutes before halftime when he connected with a corner kick on the near side, heading wide of the opposite post. The forward, who also had stints with Chelsea and AC Milan, wasreplaced by Yohei Toyoda in the 79th minute.
In other first-division action, Torres’ former Spain teammate Andreas Iniesta also made his first start as Vissel Kobe beat Kashiwa Reysol 1-0 at Noevir Stadium. Asahi Masuyama scored the winner in the 66th minute.
At Edion Stadium, Shinzo Koroki netted twice as visiting Urawa Reds shocked league leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4-1.
Yusuke Maruhashi scored a brace, including an equalizer in the fifth minute of injury time as Cerezo Osaka snatched a 2-2 draw with Vegalta Sendai.
At Suita Stadium, Koki Yonekura scored a 70th-minute equalizer for Gamba Osaka in a 1-1 draw with Kashima Antlers.
Matches scheduled between Nagoya Grampus and Consadole Sapporo, Yokohama F. Marinos and Shimizu S-Pulse, and Shonan Bellmare and Kawasaki Frontale were postponed due to forecasts of torrential rain ahead of the arrival of Typhoon Jongdari.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.