JEONJU, SOUTH KOREA – Yokohama F. Marinos proved to be too fast for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC, winning their Asian Champions League Group H opener 2-1 away in Wednesday’s battle between the J. League and K-League champions.
J. League MVP Teruhito Nakagawa was a constant threat in a game that could have been won by a wider margin had it not been for big saves from Jeonbuk keeper Song Beom-keun.
Song made a pair of saves in quick succession against Nakagawa before the Marinos forward crossed from the right to strike partner Keita Endo, who bounced in the 32nd-minute opener before the defense could react to Nakagawa not unleashing yet another shot.
Marinos ‘keeper Yuji Kajikawa preserved the lead by catching a shot from point-blank range moments later, before Endo and Nakagawa struck again.
The visitors went up 2-0 in the 37th minute.
On a play in which he may have been offside, Endo broke free down the left before launching a cross toward Nakagawa near the far post. Defender Kim Jin-su slid to intercept the ball only to direct it into his own goal.
Nothing the hosts tried at Jeonju World Cup Stadium kept Nakagawa, Endo and Marcos Junior from getting high-percentage shots close to goal. Only misses and blocks kept the game from becoming a rout.
Kajikawa, who repeatedly came out of his area as far as the touchline, finally paid the price for his adventures, when he came up empty on an 80th-minute touchline tackle. Instead, of saving the day, he was absent when Jo Kyu-seong pumped a long-range shot into the empty net.
Jeonbuk finished with 10 men after defender Lee Yong received his second yellow two minutes later.
In Group G, Emperor’s Cup champions Vissel Kobe beat Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim 5-1 at Noevir Stadium behind a hat trick from Keijiro Ogawa.