MATSUMOTO, NAGANO PREF. – Goals from Kei Chinen and Hiroyuki Abe led two-time defending J. League champion Kawasaki Frontale to its first win of the season as it overturned Matsumoto Yamaga 2-0 on Sunday.
Frontale had little trouble exploiting the gaps in the recently promoted hosts’ defense, but was wasteful in front of the goal and had to wait until the 44th minute to break the deadlock, when Chinen scored with a diving header off a low cross from Hidemasa Morita.
Chinen credited veteran Kengo Nakamura with unlocking Matsumoto’s defense after he had created space by drifting to both the left and right.
“Kengo’s movement off the ball created space for me. I was able to move into that space. If he hadn’t done that, there would have been no goal,” Chinen said.
“As a team, it’s been fairly frustrating. For the past two weeks we’ve been getting back to full strength and practicing with a renewed focus. Today you saw the result of that. I think we’re going in a good direction.”
Akihiro Ienaga played provider for Abe in the 64th minute with some poised playmaking from the left side of the area. With bodies between him and the goal, Ienaga flicked the ball back toward the edge of the box for Abe to run on to it and rifle it just inside the post.
Elsewhere, Shonan Bellmare won 3-1 at winless Shimizu S-Pulse.