• Kyodo


Midfield maestro Andres Iniesta put on a playmaking master class Sunday and David Villa scored for the second straight game as Vissel Kobe came from behind in a 3-1 win over Vegalta Sendai in the J. League first division.

Villa, the third big-name European star to join the Kobe club in the past three seasons, broke a 1-1 deadlock just seconds into the second half with a goal set up by his former Spain teammate Iniesta.

The hosts took the lead at Yurtec Stadium in the 12th minute when Mozambican Simao Mate headed in a corner, but found it hard to get the ball past midfield and struggled to keep pace with Vissel’s counterattacks.

Kyogo Furuhashi equalized with a header in the 32nd minute after Vegalta turned the ball over in midfield. Iniesta received the ball in the penalty area and dribbled out to the right, pulling two defenders with him. Furuhashi drifted in behind the two Vissel players and met Iniesta’s cross.

Moments later, Iniesta set up Villa with a through pass, but the new acquisition blasted it straight into the arms of keeper Daniel Schmidt.

Villa, however, put the visitors in front 22 seconds into the second half. Vegalta surrendered the ball with some careless passing in their opponents’ half immediately after the restart. Furuhashi ran onto a long ball down the left flank from Iniesta and crossed to Villa sprinting toward goal who unleashed a perfect shot between Schmidt and the left post.

“First of all, it was a great game,” Villa said. “We surrendered the opener on a set play and that’s something we have to address. We created a lot of scoring chances, and I thought we would score more, but I’m happy with the win.”

Another move orchestrated by Iniesta resulted in a 64th-minute own goal, when he found Lukas Podolski on the right and the German’s cross was deflected by defender Kazuki Oiwa into his own net.

At Nissan Stadium, Takahiro Ogihara’s last-gasp equalizer for Yokohama F. Marinos robbed Kawasaki Frontale of three points after Leandro Damiao’s second had put the visitors ahead in the 88th minute.

At Ajinomoto Stadium, FC Tokyo’s Jael added an injury-time goal in a 2-0 win for the hosts after an own goal had broken the deadlock in the 87th minute against winless Sagan Tosu.

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